Decisions in conservation biology must be made in the face of uncertainty, due to lack of information. Experimental evidence is required to reduce that uncertainty. Many important conceptual issues in conservation biology cannot be answered by research on threatened species. Research with laboratory species provides a critical link between theory and computer simulation on one hand and wildlife in the field on the other. Such research provides a rapid, inexpensive means for addressing many important questions in conservation biology, especially in conservation genetics. Many examples are provided where conceptual issues in conservation genetics have been resolved using Drosophila. Meta-analyses of data from natural populations provide a rapid, inexpensive means for addressing important questions in conservation genetics, especially when used in combination with laboratory studies. Research with laboratory species and meta-analyses should form part of a balanced portfolio of research investment in conservation biology.