Environmental Management

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 745–758 | Cite as

Population viability analysis as a tool in wildlife conservation policy: With reference to Australia

  • David B. Lindenmayer
  • Tim W. Clark
  • Robert C. Lacy
  • Virginia C. Thomas
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Abstract

Wildlife conservation policy for endangered species restoration follows a six-phase process. Population viability analysis (PVA) can play a major contributing role in four of these. PVA, as discussed here, is a technique where extinction vulnerabilities of small populations are estimated using computer simulation modeling. The benefits and limitations of using PVA in wildlife decision and policy processes are reviewed based on our direct experience. PVA permits decision makers to set time frames for management, estimate the required magnitude of restoration efforts, identify quantitative targets for species recovery, and select, implement, monitor, and evaluate management strategies. PVA is of greatest value for rare species policy and management. However, a limitation of PVA simulation models is that they are constrained by the amount of biological data available, and such data are difficult to obtain from small populations that are at immediate risk of extinction. These problems may be overcome with improved models and more data. Our experience shows benefits of PVA far outweigh its limitations, and applications of the approach are most useful when integrated with decision analysis and completed within an adaptive management philosophy. PVAs have been carried out for 14 Victorian species and less used elsewhere in Australia. Management and recovery plans are developed from these PVAs. We recommend that PVA be used to guide research programs, develop conservation strategies, and inform decision and policy making for both endangered and nonendangered species because it can significantly improve many aspects of natural resource policy and management.

Key words

Population viability analysis Wildlife conservation and policy Small populations Australia 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • David B. Lindenmayer
    • 1
  • Tim W. Clark
    • 2
    • 3
  • Robert C. Lacy
    • 4
  • Virginia C. Thomas
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Conservation and EnvironmentFlora and Fauna Division, Wildlife BranchHeidelbergAustralia
  2. 2.Northern Rockies Conservation CooperativeJacksonUSA
  3. 3.School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.Department of Conservation BiologyChicago Zoological SocietyBrookfieldUSA
  5. 5.Department of Conservation and EnvironmentFlora and Fauna Division, Wildlife BranchHeidelbergAustralia

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