Abundant native vertebrates, which we define as those that have increased in abundance due to human‐induced changes in communities or ecosystems, have contributed to the decline of rare vertebrates through predation, competition, habitat change, disease transmission, and hybridization. Recent literature dealing with the negative effects of abundant native vertebrates on rare native vertebrates argues for population control by killing or translocating animals. We identify several potential problems with these methods, including the high cost of population control, community changes such as mesopredator release that favor other harmful vertebrate species, and increases in diseases harmful to the rare species. Also, public opposition to and lack of species specificity in population control techniques often make population control difficult. We propose alternatives to population reduction/or management of abundant native vertebrates, including techniques that prevent abundant vertebrates from causing harm, and community and ecosystem rehabilitation and restoration. The latter provide the best solutions to problems caused by abundant native vertebrates because community and ecosystem degradation are the primary factors responsible for some species becoming rare and others becoming abundant. These solutions are long term, biologically sound, and involve little direct human intervention into ecosystem processes. But population control may be necessary as a short‐term solution when abundant vertebrates pose an immediate threat to the survival of a rare species. We conclude that those involved in the conservation of rare species should consider population control of abundant native vertebrates only as a last resort.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 1995
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