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Commentary on Holmes et al. (2007): resolving the debate on when extinction risk is predictable


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We reconcile the findings of Holmes et al. (Ecology Letters, 10, 2007, 1182) that 95% confidence intervals for quasi-extinction risk were narrow for many vertebrates of conservation concern, with previous theory predicting wide confidence intervals. We extend previous theory, concerning the precision of quasi-extinction estimates as a function of population dynamic parameters, prediction intervals and quasi-extinction thresholds, and provide an approximation that specifies the prediction interval and threshold combinations where quasi-extinction estimates are precise (vs. imprecise). This allows PVA practitioners to define the prediction interval and threshold regions of safety (low risk with high confidence), danger (high risk with high confidence), and uncertainty.