Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 1419–1429 | Cite as

Independent contributions of threat and popularity to conservation translocations

  • M. DíazEmail author
  • J. D. Anadón
  • J. L. Tella
  • A. Giménez
  • I. Pérez
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Biodiversity appreciation and engagement


Species translocations are popular tools in conservation, but may be increasingly motivated by species’ popularity, rather than their threat status. We analyzed relative contributions of threat status (a surrogate for extinction risk) and popularity (an estimate of the degree of public knowledge, awareness or notoriety) to the likelihood of developing translocation projects for a representative whole regional fauna (174 conservation translocations during the last two decades for 82 out of the 527 species of Spanish terrestrial vertebrates). Three measures of threat status were obtained from technical (IUCN) and legal sources. Popularity estimates were obtained from body size data and two different Internet search protocols. All combinations of the three factors used to estimate threat status were correlated, as were the three indicators of species popularity (internet popularity indexes and body mass). Selected estimates unbiasedly captured differences in both threat and popularity among species. Threat and popularity were only weakly correlated, as expected when considering faunas as a whole rather than the better-studied subsets. Threat status and popularity had significant and equivalent contributions to explain the development of conservation translocations. Popularity, or lack thereof, partly explained the development of projects for non-threatened but popular species, as well as the lack of projects for several highly endangered species unknown by the public. Observed mismatches between technical and social criteria can be prevented by (a) strict separation of conservation translocations from translocations directed to cover other social demands or (b) development of explicit, quantitative decision-making criteria aimed at rigorous ex-ante evaluations of translocations.


Decision criteria Internet searches Popularity Conservation translocations Threat status 



Graciela G. Nicola collaborated in the development of body size and popularity estimates, and in collating comprehensive species’ lists of all animal groups. Martina Carrete provided part of the data of bird body masses. Piotr Tryjanowski and, especially, Alberto Díaz provided references and fruitful discussion on Internet searches as sources of popularity estimates. Comments from four referees and the associate editor, Anurag Chaurasia, were very helpful. This paper is a contribution to the projects REMEDINAL3-CM (S2013/MAE-2719) and VEABA (ECO2013-42110-P), funded by regional and national Spanish agencies, respectively.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (XLS 185 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 11 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biogeography and Global ChangeMuseo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (BGC-MNCN-CSIC)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of BiologyQueens College CUNYFlushingUSA
  3. 3.Ecology, Evolution and Behavior Subprogram, Biology Program. The Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Conservation BiologyEstación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC)SevilleSpain
  5. 5.Department of Applied Biology and EcologyMiguel Hernández UniversityAlicanteSpain
  6. 6.Columbia School of Social WorkNew YorkUSA

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