Declaring a species extinct and so not worthy of conservation money is not a trivial matter. It’s a decision that scientists working for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have to make when drawing up their Red List of Threatened Species, for example. Now, a team of Australian researchers are trying to bring a more rigorous approach to this area with the help of the dodo.
It may sound ridiculous to work out whether conservation dollars should be spent on the dodo (Raphus cucullatus), but the question illustrates a problem for biologists: determining when you should give up on a species.
Cut off conservation money too soon and you could drive a species teetering on the brink into extinction. Keep conserving an animal long after it has last been sighted and you risk wasting money that could keep another endangered animal in the game.
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