Research Alert

“Functionality” is the Gold Standard of Species Recovery


1. A recently proposed framework for an IUCN Green List of Species formalizes the requirement of “ecological recovery” by defining a fully recovered species in terms of representation, viability and functionality.
2. A group of scientists propose two complementary approaches to assessing a species’ ecological functions: a confirmation approach that starts with a list of the interactions of the species, identifying the ecological processes and the other species that are involved in these interactions and quantifying the extent to which the species contributes to the identified ecological process; and an elimination approach that infers functionality by ruling out symptoms of reduced functionality, analogous to the Red List approach that focuses on symptoms of reduced viability.
3. Authors believe that incorporation of functionality into species recovery planning is not only possible, but also an essential element of an aspirational conservation vision that goes beyond preventing extinctions, aiming to restore a species to levels beyond what is required only for its own viability. Eric Sanderson, Senior Conservation Ecologist
WCS Media Contact:  Stephen Sautner, 7182203682, [email protected]

Study and Journal:  "Assessing Ecological Function in the Context of Species Recovery"   from  Conservation Biology
WCS Co-Author(s):  Eric Sanderson , Senior Conservation Ecologist


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