NCEAS Product 11920

Ashley, Mary V.; Willson, Mary F.; Pergams, Oliver R.W.; O'Dowd, Dennis J.; Gende, Scott M.; Brown, Joel. 2003. Evolutionarily enlightened management. Biological Conservation. Vol: 111. Pages 115-123. (Abstract) (Online version)


Here we review growing evidence that microevolutionary changes may often be rapid and, in many cases, occur on time frames comparable to human disturbance and anthropogenic change. Contemporary evolutionary change has been documented in relatively pristine habitats, in disturbed populations, under captive management, and in association with both intentional and inadvertent introductions. We argue that evolutionary thinking is thus relevant to conservation biology and resource management but has received insufficient consideration. Ignoring evolution may have a variety of consequences, including unpredicted evolutionary responses to disturbance and naive or inappropriate management decisions. Philosophically, we must also grapple with the issue of whether the evolution of adaptations to disturbance and degraded habitats is sometimes beneficial or something to be rigorously avoided. We advocate promoting evolutionarily enlightened management [Lecture Notes in Biomathematics 99 (1994) 248], in which both the ecological and evolutionary consequences of resource management decisions are considered.