Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


Are Conservation Biologists Wasting Their Time?

• November 10, 2010 • 2:02 PM

Ecologist Hugh Possingham argues that conservationists have made a fetish of monitoring ailing species, and what they should be doing isn’t counting but acting.

Conventional wisdom says saving threatened species requires closely track their numbers. As a result, conservation biologists around the world spend a lot of time and money keeping track of all sorts of species, from elephants to whales.

But is all of this species monitoring getting anywhere for real conservation?

Definitely not, says Dr. Hugh Possingham, an ecologist and professor at the University of Queensland in Australia. Not only is this monitoring mostly a waste, it is actually hurting on the ground conservation efforts by siphoning off money that could otherwise be used to save species. Instead of just squandering resources, blindly monitoring for monitoring’s sake, Possingham urges scientists to devote themselves to action plans that actually do something to save threatened species.

Music for Curiouser and Curiouser is provided by Jamie Miller and by David Matheson.

Jai Ranganathan
Dr. Jai Ranganathan is a biologist and his research focuses on questions of species conservation. He can be reached at jai.ranganathan at gmail.com.

More From Jai Ranganathan

Tags: ,

If you would like to comment on this post, or anything else on Pacific Standard, visit our Facebook or Google+ page, or send us a message on Twitter. You can also follow our regular updates and other stories on both LinkedIn and Tumblr.

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Follow us


Subscribe Now

Quick Studies

What Makes You Neurotic?

A new study gets to the root of our anxieties.

Fecal Donor Banks Are Possible and Could Save Lives

Defrosted fecal matter can be gross to talk about, but the benefits are too remarkable to tiptoe around.

How Junk Food Companies Manipulate Your Tongue

We mistakenly think that harder foods contain fewer calories, and those mistakes can affect our belt sizes.

What Steve Jobs’ Death Teaches Us About Public Health

Studies have shown that when public figures die from disease, the public takes notice. New research suggests this could be the key to reaching those who are most at risk.

Speed-Reading Apps Will Not Revolutionize Anything, Except Your Understanding

The one-word-at-a-time presentation eliminates the eye movements that help you comprehend what you're reading.

The Big One

One state—Pennsylvania—logs 52 percent of all sales, shipments, and receipts for the chocolate manufacturing industry. March/April 2014