The importance of time scale in conservation biology and ecology

Richard Frankham*, Barry W. Brook

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


The issue of time scaling in conservation biology and ecology is rarely considered, yet has crucial implications. If time scale is inappropriate, it impedes the search for generalities. Data on threatened species are typically limited, so the search for generalities is important in conservation biology where extrapolations from well studied taxa to threatened species are often needed. When time scale is specified in conservation biology and ecology it is typically defined in years. However, theoretical and empirical evidence indicates that extinction risk scales to generations, as do catastrophes, and environmental and genetic stochasticity. Examples are given of important insights achieved by analyses using generations. Conversely, human social and political considerations are more likely to require scaling to years, so the purpose of studies needs to be carefully defined. Progress in conservation biology and ecology will be impeded if the issue of time scale is not addressed carefully.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-463
Number of pages5
JournalAnnales Zoologici Fennici
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Publisher 2004. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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