Endangered species: Deciding which species to save
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Many species face extinction because preservation organizations do not have the resources to mount all of the interventions that are needed. Decision analysis provides techniques that can help managers of these organizations to make judgments about which species they will attempt to rescue. A formal analysis of the choices available to the US Fish and Wildlife Services' endangered species program with regard toIsotria medeoloides illustrates how the difficulties of making preservation decisions can be lessened.I. medeoloides is perhaps the rarest orchid in the United States. Little is known of the species' biology and less about effective management. Yet unless a preservation effort is mounted, the species will continue to be threatened by habitat destruction and botanical collecting. The analysis employs formal probabalistic techniques to weigh the utility of possible intervention strategies, that is, their likelihood of achieving different amounts of increase in the longevity of the species, and to balance these gains against their costs. If similar decision analyses are performed on other endangered species, the technique can be used to choose among them, as well as among strategies for individual species.
Key wordsEndangered species Decision analysis Isotria medeoloides Preserve selection
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