Extinction debt: a challenge for biodiversity conservation

Kuussaari M., Bommarco R., Heikkinen R.K., Helm A., Krauss J., Lindborg R., Öckinger E., Pärtel M., Pino J., Rodà F., Stefanescu C., Teder T., Zobel M., Steffan-Dewenter I. (2009) Extinction debt: a challenge for biodiversity conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 24: 564-571.
Doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2009.04.011


Local extinction of species can occur with a substantial delay following habitat loss or degradation. Accumulating evidence suggests that such extinction debts pose a significant but often unrecognized challenge for biodiversity conservation across a wide range of taxa and ecosystems. Species with long generation times and populations near their extinction threshold are most likely to have an extinction debt. However, as long as a species that is predicted to become extinct still persists, there is time for conservation measures such as habitat restoration and landscape management. Standardized long-term monitoring, more high-quality empirical studies on different taxa and ecosystems and further development of analytical methods will help to better quantify extinction debt and protect biodiversity. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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