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Trends Ecol Evol. 2000 Dec 1;15(12):516-520.

Predicting extinction risks for plants: environmental stochasticity can save declining populations.


An emerging generalization from theoretical and empirical studies on conservation biology is that high levels of environmental stochasticity increase the likelihood of population extinction. However, coexistence theory has illustrated that there are circumstances under which environmental stochasticity can increase the chance of population persistence. These theoretical studies have shown that the sign of the effect of environmental stochasticity on population persistence is determined by interactions between life history and environmental stochasticity. These interactions mean that the stochastic and deterministic rates of population growth might differ fundamentally. Although difficult to demonstrate in real systems, observed life histories and variance in the vital rates of populations suggest that this phenomenon is likely to be common, and is therefore of much relevance to conservation biologists.

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