The History and Distinctions of Conservation Biology

In this chapter you will learn about:
  1. 1.

    The origins and history of conservation and conservation biology

  2. 2.

    The conceptual distinctions of conservation biology


Throughout most of human history, an interest in the conservation of plants and animals, much less a passionate dedication to it, has not been considered a “normal” way of thinking. This is not just the case in ordinary society, but even in the scientific community. Nevertheless, this “different” approach to the natural world, and to science, was given voice and direction at a remarkable meeting in 1978. In that year a group of academic scientists, zookeepers, and wildlife conservationists attended a banquet at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. There biologist Michael Soulé made an impassioned plea to his colleagues: with world extinction rates estimated to be at their highest levels in 65 million years, it was time for academics and conservationists to join forces to save threatened and endangered species (Gibbons 1992). Soulé’s words sparked both controversy and criticism, but few were left unmoved. That meeting, now ambitiously called the First International Conference on Conservation Biology, led to new beginnings. A landmark publication that would become a foundational statement of the new discipline’s identity, Conservation Biology: An Evolutionary-Ecological Perspective (Soulé and Wilcox 1980) resulted, a new scientific organization, the Society for Conservation Biology, was created, and a new discipline, conservation biology, was born.


National Park Conservation Biology Wildlife Management Sockeye Salmon Sustained Yield 
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