Red flags: correlates of impaired species recovery
Jeffrey A. Hutchings et al. in Trends in Ecology and Evolution
Jeffrey A. Hutchings, Stuart H. M. Butchart, Ben Collen, Michael K. Schwartz and Robin S. Waples
Conservation biology research exhibits a striking but unhelpful dichotomy. Analyses of species decline, extinction risk, and threat mitigation typically encompass broad taxonomic and spatial scales. By contrast, most studies of recovery lack generality, pertaining to specific species, populations, or locales. Narrowly focused analyses offer a weak empirical basis for identifying generic recovery correlates across species, particularly in cases where recovery is not effected by an abatement of threats. We present a research framework for multi-species meta-analyses to identify early-warning signals – ‘red flags’ – of impaired recovery that can be used as predictors of recovery potential before recovery efforts are initiated. An empirically comprehensive understanding of the demographic, ecological, evolutionary, and threat-related factors affecting the rate and trajectory of species recovery will strengthen conservation efforts to set recovery priorities, targets, and timelines.