The Protected Area Paradox and refugee species: The giant panda and baselines shifted towards conserving species in marginal habitats

GIH Kerley, M te Beest, JPGM Cromsigt, D Pauly, Susanne Shultz

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

Abstract

Paradoxically, despite the growth in protected areas globally, many species remain threatened and continue to decline. Attempts to conserve species in suboptimal habitats (i.e., as refugee species) may in part explain this Protected Area Paradox. Refugee species yield poor conservation outcomes as they suffer lower densities and fitness. We suggest that the giant panda may serve as an iconic example, reflecting the contraction and shift in the giant panda's range, diet and habitat use over the past 3,500 years, coinciding with increasing human pressure, and now maintained by conservation efforts, this due to shifted baselines. The global bias of protected area location to less productive habitats indicates that this problem may be widespread. We urgently need efforts to identify victims of refugee species status to allow improved conservation management globally, reducing the paradoxical outcomes of our conservation efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere203
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalConservation Science and Practice
Volume2
Issue number6
Early online date23 May 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • Ailuropoda melanoleuca
  • Conservation management
  • Fitness
  • Giant panda
  • Optimal habitat
  • Protected areas
  • Range contraction
  • Refugee species
  • Shifted baseline
  • Suboptimal habitat

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