Reflections on a seminal paper in conservation biology: the legacy of Peters and Darling (1985)

Lesley Hughes*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    The Greenhouse Effect and Nature Reserves' by Robert Peters and Joan Darling, published in the journal Bioscience more than 30 years ago, was a ground-breaking synthesis. Drawing on paleoecology, community ecology and biogeography, the review laid out many concepts about species vulnerability to climate change that have become central tenets of research on climate change adaptation in natural ecosystems. Remarkably, the paper also provided a clear and logical framework for flexible, forward-thinking and interventionist management action, including recommendations about the design of protected areas, and the need for species translocation to reduce extinction risk. Reflecting on the legacy of this paper, it is clear that the uptake of such approaches over the intervening decades has been extremely slow, representing many lost opportunities to reduce species vulnerability to rapid environmental change. This paper is a tribute to the prescience of Peters and Darling, and a call to revisit their farsighted advice to meet conservation challenges that continue to accelerate.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)267-270
    Number of pages4
    JournalPacific Conservation Biology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • assisted colonisation
    • climate change adaptation
    • conservation practice
    • nature reserves
    • protected areas
    • translocation


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