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Title: Quantitative Conservation of Vertebrates
Author(s): Michael J Conroy and John P Carroll
Date of Publication: 2009 Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Pages:xiv + 210 ISBN: 978 0 4051 8228 7
Price: Format:Paperback
Target Readership Senior Secondary







Content: 1 - Introduction; 2 – Using models in conservation biology; 3 - Models of population dynamics; 4 - Applying population models to conservation; 5 - Basics of study design and analysis; 6 - General principles of estimation; 7 - Occupancy (presence-absence) analysis; 8 - Sample counts for abundance estimation; 9 - Distance sampling for estimating density and abundance; 10 - Capture-mark-recapture studies for estimating abundance and density; 11 - Estimation of survival from radiotelemetry, nesting success studies and age distributions; 12 - Mark-recapture for estimating survival, recruitment, abundance and movement rates; 13 - Analysis of habitat; 14 - Estimation of species richness and other community parameters; 15 - Elements of conservation decision making; 16 - Accounting for uncertainty in conservation decisions; 17 - Learning and adaptive management; 18 - Case study: decision modelling and adaptive management for declining grassland birds in the SE USA; 19 - Summary and recommendations.

Review: 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.

The 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.

This 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.





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