The latest issue of Conservation Biology features a list of “One Hundred Questions of Importance to the Conservation of Global Biological Diversity“. 761 individuals from 24 international organizations, hailing from every continent except Antarctica, came up with a total of 2291 questions. Questions were designed to meet the following criteria:

  • were answerable through a realistic research design
  • allowed a factual answer that does not depend on value judgments
  • addressed important gaps in knowledge
  • were of a spatial and temporal scale that reasonably could be addressed by a research team
  • were not formulated as a general topic area
  • were not answerable with “it all depends,”
  • if related to impact and interventions, contained a subject, an intervention, and a measurable outcome (thus, question immediately suggests research design needed to address it)
  • were not likely to be answerable with yes or no

The overall goal was summarized with this question: “Is this really one of the 100 questions that, if answered, would have the greatest impact on the practice and delivery of conserving biological diversity worldwide?

Over the course of a two-day workshop in September 2008, participants whittled down the initial list of questions to only 100, which are included in the journal. The final questions are grouped into 12 sections:

  1. Ecosystem Function and Services
  2. Climate Change
  3. Technological Change
  4. Protected Areas
  5. Ecosystem Management and Restoration
  6. Terrestrial Ecosystems
  7. Marine Ecosystems
  8. Freshwater Ecosystems
  9. Species Management
  10. Organizational Systems and Processes
  11. Societal Context and Change
  12. Impacts of Conservation Interventions

And finally, here are a few of the questions I found most thought-provoking:

25. What are the direct and indirect impacts of genetically modified organisms on biodiversity?
27. How effective are different types of protected areas (e.g., strict nature reserves, hunting reserves, and national parks) at conserving biodiversity and providing ecosystem services?
32. What was the condition of ecosystems before significant human disruption, and how can this knowledge be used to improve current and future management?
36. What spatial pattern of human settlement (e.g., clustered vs. dispersed) has the least impact on biodiversity?
45. What are the contributions of urban nature reserves and other green amenity spaces, such as golf courses, to biodiversity conservation, and how can these be enhanced?
64. What are the likely risks, costs, and benefits of reintroducing and translocating species as a response to climate change?
66. How can we best manage diseases that have the potential to move among wild species, domestic species, and people?
85. What factors shape human (in)tolerance of the presence and activities of wild animals, especially where those animals induce human–wildlife conflict?

So, who out there can tell me why no one from the San Diego Zoo was involved in this in any way? Anyone?


W. J. SUTHERLAND, W. M. ADAMS, R. B. ARONSON, R., et al. One Hundred Questions of Importance to the Conservation of Global Biological Diversity. Conservation Biology. Published Online: Apr 22 2009 11:28AM.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01212.x