News FocusConservation Biology

A Species' Fate, By the Numbers

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Science  02 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5411, pp. 36-37
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5411.36

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SAN DIEGO-- Population viability analysis (PVA), a favorite approach of conservation biologists for predicting a population's survival, is coming under scrutiny now that its use in critical decisions on endangered species is on the rise. Increasingly, PVAs are being attacked as too simplistic, overly demanding of data, error-prone, and hard to verify. Last month, at the first-ever major conference on the technique, scientists discussed hurdles facing attempts to extend PVA to cover a wider range of species, and how to factor in the behavior of our own species. And one scientist described how he crash-tested PVA models in the lab, a practice that could help ecologists refine the technique.