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October 25, 2017

Small plant sprouts coming out of pile of coinsLeah Gerber, Founding Director of the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, recently co-authored a publication with Hugh Possingham, Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy, in News and Views titled “The effect of conservation spending.”

Gerber and Possingham discuss a statistical analysis published earlier this year by Waldron et al, explaining how this model “demonstrates a statistically significant, positive correlation between how much a country invests in the protection of threatened species and its success in limiting biodiversity declines.”

The authors describe how biodiversity conservation investment calculations can be limited when money is their only metric, not taking into account other aspects of human society that can either threatened or promote biodiversity, such as population growth and increases in agricultural land use.  The new model provides a foundation for more targeted conservation spending, which is “one of the factors most tightly linked to the successful recovery of endangered species.”

Global biodiversity loss is occurring at an alarming rate. Yet, models like this one provide hope by demonstrating how small changes in public policy and targeted international investments in key nations could dramatically reduce this loss and propel us towards achieving globally established biodiversity conservation goals.

Possingham visited ASU earlier this year and facilitated a series of presentations, including a talk on how math can help save species in which he demonstrated to faculty and students the calculations used to support cutting edge biodiversity conservation decision-making.

The article is scheduled to appear in the November 2017 print issue of Nature.

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