Spending limited resources on de-extinction could lead to net biodiversity loss

Nature Ecology and Evolution
2017
Joseph R. Bennett, Richard F. Maloney, Tammy E. Steeves, James Brazill-Boast, Hugh P. Possingham & Philip J. Seddon
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DOI10.1038/s41559-016-0053
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AbstractThere is contentious debate surrounding the merits of de-extinction as a biodiversity conservation tool. Here, we use extant analogues to predict conservation actions for potential de-extinction candidate species from New Zealand and the Australian state of New South Wales, and use a prioritization protocol to predict the impacts of reintroducing and maintaining populations of these species on conservation of extant threatened species. Even using the optimistic assumptions that resurrection of species is externally sponsored, and that actions for resurrected species can share costs with extant analogue species, public funding for conservation of resurrected species would lead to fewer extant species that could be conserved, suggesting net biodiversity loss. If full costs of establishment and maintenance for resurrected species populations were publicly funded, there could be substantial sacrifices in extant species conservation. If conservation of resurrected species populations could be fully externally sponsored, there could be benefits to extant threatened species. However, such benefits would be outweighed by opportunity costs, assuming such discretionary money could directly fund conservation of extant species. Potential sacrifices in conservation of extant species should be a crucial consideration in deciding whether to invest in de-extinction or focus our efforts on extant species.
Created: 12/14/2017 10:30 AM (ET)
Modified: 12/14/2017 10:30 AM (ET)
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