Twenty landmark papers in biodiversity conservation

Bradshaw, Corey J.A., Sodhi, Navjot S., Laurance, William F., and Brook, Barry W. (2011) Twenty landmark papers in biodiversity conservation. In: Pavlinov, Igor Ya., (ed.) Research in Biodiversity - Models and Applications. InTech, Rijeka, Croatia, pp. 97-112.

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[Extract] Biodiversity conservation was first defined as a science less than three decades ago (Meine, 2010), but is now a well-developed, multidisciplinary research endeavour (Sodhi & Ehrlich, 2010). The consolidation of this 'crisis' field (Soulé, 1985) is inextricably tied to mounting global environmental degradation as the human enterprise now threatens most of the world's biodiversity and the ecosystems of which they are part (Ehrlich & Pringle, 2008). Although the history of the field is complex and its maturation gradual (Meine, 2010; Meine et al., 2006), a modest number of key ideas have subsequently sparked enormous progress in our understanding of biodiversity's response to human impacts, and how such knowledge might help avoid extinctions.

As the planet's biotic crisis escalates, we reflect on some of the most important research discoveries in biodiversity conservation science and its progenitor disciplines. Although this is a subjective list, our rationale was to select 20 papers that either built new paradigms or tore down old ones, and set thinking along new and interesting pathways towards biodiversity conservation. Other authors would no doubt list different papers, or challenge the true origin of certain ideas we highlight. Our goal here is simply to stimulate biodiversity scientists to think about what serious innovation looks like—with the benefit of perfect hindsight—and to use this retrospective to help guide future thinking.

In the remainder of this chapter, we briefly assess these 20 papers, but make no attempt to rank their relative importance – apart from a citation analysis (Fig. 1). Although we do not consider scientific citations alone reflect a paper's value sufficiently, it does provide a simple indication of its influence on research directions. Indeed, many of the highlighted papers have proposed ideas that have subsequently been discredited or rendered obsolete. This is a natural part of the progression of science. There is nonetheless little doubt that each of these papers has inspired new research paths and directed conservation interventions that have arguably benefited biodiversity.

Item ID: 19636
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-953-307-794-9
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© 2011 InTech All chapters are Open Access articles distributed under the Creative Commons Non Commercial Share Alike Attribution 3.0 license, which permits to copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt the work in any medium, so long as the original work is properly cited.

Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2012 01:04
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
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