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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 36(1)

Advances in wildlife ecology and the influence of Graeme Caughley

A. R. E. Sinclair A B, Kristine L. Metzger B

A Centre for Biodiversity Research, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, V6T 1Z4, Canada.
B Corresponding author. Email: sinclair@zoology.ubc.ca
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Graeme Caughley produced substantial advances in our understanding of interactions between large mammalian herbivores and the environments they occupy. The strength of his work lay in the logical approach to answering fundamental questions. While his life work contributed to our understanding of animal population dynamics, it is in the application of his research and ideas that we have greatly advanced the science of conservation biology. Two central legacies of Caughley’s lifelong work are that an understanding of basic science leads to more appropriate management, and that underlying assumptions must be explicitly stated and tested. By arguing that efficient management of ecosystems requires an understanding of the underlying mechanisms, he moved forward the application of basic research to management. Future advances in wildlife conservation must focus on three aspects: (1) the rules for stability in ecosystems, and how humans cause instability; (2) the decline in native habitats, mostly from agriculture, and how to renew and reconstruct them while expanding threatened populations; and (3) how to breed species in captivity, and then reintroduce them as a last line of defence.

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