What we’re reading: Dec 19, 2014

Do Policy Makers REALLY Want to Talk to Scientists?
This open op-ed in Nature describes the misuse of a scientist’s genetic and population viability analysis (PVA, an analysis that estimates extinction risk of a population or species) by the Swedish government to justify their wolf culling program. An extremely bold move to write the op-ed by Dr. Chapron which may have repercussions in terms of access to permits and funding in the future. However, he brings up a crucial point, how can biodiversity scientists work with advocates and/or policy makers when they have a policy agenda that may be counter to scientific results? And, what avenues for recourse do scientists have when their work is intentionally misused?

Incorporating Evolutionary Information into PVAs
Population Viability Analysis usually only incorporates life-history traits for a species (current population size, carrying capacity, sex ratio, birth and death rates, immigration and emigration rates, population age structure, and dispersal distance) and relates them to the probability that landscape change and/or catastrophic events will result in the population going extinct within 100 years. This paper (sub) adds in how inbreeding, selection, and hybridization may change population extinction risk within the framework of the well accepted PVA.

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