There is a considerable need for the ecological theory to be
tied into practical studies and this is nowhere more evident
than in conservation ecology. Benefits are, of course, two-way.
Theory gets a chance to be tested in real cases - often to a
point where what seems 'obvious' on paper is decidedly less
so in the field. Empirical observation can be tested against
current theories not just to provide a more rounded understanding
but to make sure that analyses from field data do actually work
in terms of ecological theory. A simple case for those in the
UK would be to see how conservation theory and practice has
evolved over the last 50 years in relation to chalk downland.
This text seeks to provide a rigorous quantitative approach
to practical conservation ecology with the added advantage of
helping those less inclined to use models to be better informed.
book is divided into three. The first part explores the basic
ideas behind models providing a grounding from which to better
appreciate the practical aspects. An opening chapter provides
an overview of the topic, the use of models, and a summary of
the book's layout. A very brief chapter two gives some examples
of the types of models we are likely to encounter in conservation.
The next two chapters study the key concept in conservation
- population dynamics. Although there are other aspects that
we need to examine, current conservation efforts are all about
numbers and so this becomes the central idea. The final chapter
in this part looks at the design parameters for models. This
is especially important because although any data can be put
into a model it does require some knowledge of what is appropriate
to both analyse the results and have some confidence (statistical
or otherwise) as to the validity of the results. Part two moves
on to a more practical focus looking at the way in which we
gather data. Chapter six discusses the ways in which we can
get reliable population numbers from an incomplete set. Given
that we are extremely unlikely to ever get a total, accurate
population number the best we can hope for is an approximation.
The reliability of estimation becomes an key factor in the design
of experiments and interpretation of results. Having considered
the best ways of estimating the population the next move is
to consider a sample. The remainder of this part is really an
exploration of the ways of sampling and their relative merits.
Chapter 8 considers the issue of sample size. Chapters 9 and
10 look at abundance from the point of view of static (plant)
samples and relative distances or my abundance through time
(as in mark-recapture for animals). Finally, in chapter 11 there's
a discussion about using proxy signs for abundance e.g. nesting
sites. Of course, it's not all straightforward and so the final
three chapters of this part explore, in far more detail, issues
of mark-recapture, habitat variables and population numbers
using community dynamics. Part three puts preceding work into
a practical context. Chapter 15 puts modeling into the context
of decision-making showing how a more robust approach can yield
benefits. Chapter 16 returns to the issue of uncertainty, where
it is found and how it can be allowed for. The next two chapters
put all this work into a case study leaving a final chapter
as a summary.
is a practical text aimed at those using, or seeking to use,
models and other quantitative work in conservation. It will
be of value in conservation courses and field centres. For those
following the work there is a CD accompanying the book and web
support from the authors.