Depending upon one’s perspective, the discipline of conservation biology suffers from either an excess or a critical lack of theory. Detractors of theory perceive ecological theory to have limited applicability to “real‐world” management problems, whereas others despair that the lack of conservation theory may ultimately hinder the development of a coherent scientific framework and the guiding principles necessary for managing complex systems. The emphasis on theory in conservation research has been attributed to the urgency with which managers must often act before requisite data are available, which has contributed to the perception of conservation biology as a “crisis discipline” ( Soulé 1985 ). The condition of rarity itself, the main trait shared by species of conservation concern, precludes well‐replicated study ( Doak & Mills 1994 ). Theory provides a solid foundation to guide management activities and to facilitate transfer of “state‐of‐art research into practical management tools” ( Edwards 1989 ). Nevertheless, theoretical generalizations in conservation biology have been criticized as being too weak to be usefully predictive, models are viewed as being too simplistic and untestable, and many theoretical generalizations have reached the status of dogma, which stifles further theoretical development and testing ( Doak & Mills 1994
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Dec 2, 1997
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