Humans have altered the environment so severely that extinction events are now occurring at rates unprecedented in modern history. In order to slow this trend, conservation actions must be taken to protect biodiversity, beyond just saving flagship species. Some governmental and conservation organizations have responded by committing to ecosystem conservation but, as yet, there is no coherent strategy for how this can be carried out. This report introduces many of the theoretical aspects that will need to be considered for the development of a coherent ecosystem conservation policy. The approach includes analyzing a hierarchy of interaction-based local coexistence mechanisms within a regional and historical context. This approach points toward the need for prioritizing sensitive habitats using local interaction models; considering the effects of historical exploitation mechanisms, which are now often missing; and evaluating regional diversity influences further to identify circumstances where system-wide habitat improvements deserve more emphasis.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, award #8910-48190; and the National Science Foundation, award #INT-9725937, for their support.
- Ecosystem conservation