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Commonness, population depletion and conservation biology

Gaston, K.J. & Fuller, R.A. 2008. Commonness, population depletion and conservation biology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 23, 14–19.

Species conservation practice, as opposed to principle, generally emphasizes species at risk of imminent extinction. This results in priority lists principally of those with small populations and/or geographical ranges. However, recent work emphasizes the importance of common species to ecosystems. Even relatively small proportional declines in their abundance can result in large absolute losses of individuals and biomass, occurrences significantly disrupting ecosystem structure, function and services. Here, we argue that combined with evidence of dramatic declines in once common species, this suggests the need to pay more attentionons for conservation, including the need to identify, monitor and alleviate significant depletion events.

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