Chapter 6. Small and Declining Populations

  1. William J. Sutherland Professor of Biology
  1. Daniel Simberloff

Published Online: 14 OCT 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444313499.ch6

Conservation Science and Action

Conservation Science and Action

How to Cite

Simberloff, D. (1998) Small and Declining Populations, in Conservation Science and Action (ed W. J. Sutherland), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444313499.ch6

Editor Information

  1. School of Biological Sciences, University of East, Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK

Author Information

  1. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 OCT 2009
  2. Published Print: 19 FEB 1998

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780865427624

Online ISBN: 9781444313499



  • small populations and declining ones - focus of conservation scientists;
  • persistence times and minimum viable population size (MVP);
  • demographic stochasticity;
  • population size and likelihood of extinction relationship;
  • environmental stochasticity - threat, and conservation planning counteracting it;
  • single catastrophes, fires. volcanic eruptions or hurricanes;
  • simulation models used in conservation management;
  • ethological and physiological problems;
  • genetic threats and genetic drift;
  • extinction and numbers and spatial arrangement of small populations


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Introduction

  • Persistence times and the minimum viable population size

  • Observations on small populations

  • Extinction and the numbers and spatial arrangement of small populations

  • Proximate and ultimate causes of extinction

  • Conclusion