Conservation Science: Balancing the Needs of People and Nature

  • Kareiva, Peter (The Nature Conservancy)
  • Marvier, Michelle (Santa Clara University)
Copyright Year:2011
Specifications:576 pages, hardback, printed in full color
Publication Status:Published on October 25, 2010

Regular Price: $90.00

Special Price: $72.00

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Conservation Science: Balancing the Needs of People and Nature

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About this Title

Conservation Science is the first textbook to teach the scientific foundations of conservation while highlighting strategies to better connect its practice with the needs and priorities of a growing human population. In a book review for ECOLOGY, Todd Fuller writes: "The authors present reasoned and provocative discussion of the challenges we face while traveling the difficult road that lies ahead, and the book is thus an imperative read."

Conservation Science was primarily written for undergraduates and beginning graduate students who are interested either in academic careers or in doing science-based conservation at government agencies, non-governmental organizations, or international institutions. It will also be of interest to those already involved in conservation who want to bolster their understanding of the field.

About the Authors

Peter Kareiva and Michelle Marvier bring over thirty years of combined experience at non-governmental organizations, governmental agencies, and academia to illustrate just how conservation gets done "on the ground" in the world today. They have taught conservation both separately and together, and jointly conduct research in the field of conservation.

Peter Kareiva is the Chief Scientist and a Vice President for The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest environmental organization. He also maintains an appointment at Santa Clara University in California. Before moving to The Nature Conservancy, Dr. Kareiva was the Director of the Division of Conservation Biology at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Northwest Fisheries Science Center. He has served on the editorial boards of over a dozen different journals, has edited six books, and has been a faculty member at Brown University and the Universities of Washington and Virginia. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship and done research, consulting, teaching, or conservation work in twenty countries throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He has authored more than 100 papers and articles, many of which were written in collaboration with colleagues in fisheries, agriculture, economics, and forestry. In 2007 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science.

Michelle Marvier is a professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at Santa Clara University, where she has taught undergraduate courses in conservation science since 2000. She has published over 40 articles, is on the editorial board for Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, and regularly publishes articles with her undergraduate students. Dr. Marvier has also worked for NOAA Fisheries on salmon conservation and has served as an advisor to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and The Nature Conservancy on matters of statistics, monitoring, and risk analysis.

Table of Contents

  • Part I. Why Conservation is Needed
    1. Humans Are the Dominant Ecological Force
    2. Biodiversity and Extinction
    3. Ecosystem Services: How Nature Pays for Itself
  • Part II. Policy, Protected Areas, and Planning
    4. Policy Responses to Biodiversity Loss and Ecosystem Degradation
    5. Conservation in Protected Areas and on Private Land
    6. Conservation Planning and Priorities
  • Part III. How Science Informs Conservation Strategies
    7. The Perils of Small Populations
    8. Population Size, Trend, and Viability
    9. Assessing Threats and Choosing Conservation Actions
    10. Islands of Nature and the Role of Dispersal
    11. Restoration and Reintroduction: Fixing Problems After the Fact
    12. Adaptive Management and Evidence-Based Conservation
  • Part IV. Conservation Challenges in a World Shaped by Humans
    13. Reversing Global Deforestation and Forest Degradation
    14. Balancing Agriculture and Conservation
    15. Building Sustainable Marine Fisheries
    16. Managing Fresh Water for People and Nature
    17. Getting Practical about Introduced Species
    18. Climate Change on a Global Scale
    19. Making Conservation a Success Story


  • Kareiva and Marvier emphasize conservation practices within human-altered landscapes. Chapters on forests, agriculture, and marine fisheries explore how conservation can protect nature not from but for people.
  • They relate—with first-hand experience—the innovative approaches to conservation being practiced around the world today—from advances in fundamental research through to their application in some of conservation’s most difficult practical and ethical situations.
  • Kareiva and Marvier recognize that even among those committed to conservation there are divisions and debates. They don’t shy away from these different points of view, and they provoke open discussion—see the “Consider This” essays following each chapter.
  • They engage the reader through Discussion Questions, as well as Group Projects that utilize global conservation data available through highlighted websites—see the close of each chapter.


"The authors present reasoned and provocative discussion of the challenges we face while traveling the difficult road that lies ahead, and the book is thus an imperative read." ECOLOGY (by Todd Fuller)

Kareiva and Marvier “have crafted a book that combines sound argument with practical examples…. putting the tools of argument into the hands of the next generation of conservation scientists and on-the-ground practitioners.” SCIENCE (by John Fanshawe)

"This fresh, engaging treatment of conservation biology covers key fundamental concepts from ecology and social science and integrates these into discussions of cutting-edge conservation science. Numerous examples, many from the firsthand experiences of Kareiva (The Nature Conservancy) and Marvier (Santa Clara Univ.), enhance understanding of complex interdisciplinary issues. This work does an exceptionally good job of discussing the many ways that diverse human values influence attitudes toward biodiversity." CHOICE (by D. Flaspohler)   

"Kareiva and Marvier offer a tour de force of conservation for the 21st Century. Based on unparalleled, firsthand experience, they explore the innovative approaches to conservation being honed around the world today. Their account is rigorous and engaging, with fresh questions, data, and quantitative analysis interwoven with vivid stories of actual conservation practice in the field. The reader is repeatedly confronted with the vexing choices inherent in conservation decisions, and comes away understanding why conservation must continue to evolve into a force that protects nature for rather than from people." —Gretchen Daily, Bing Professor of Environmental Science, Department of Biology, Stanford University

"A remarkable combination of scholarship and pedagogy that will be the first choice for any course on conservation biology, and should be in every ecologist’s library." —Simon Levin, Moffett Professor of Biology, Princeton University

"This book marks a welcome revolution in the way students confront conservation science. It presents conservation issues as they are—vexing, unresolved problems involving economics and ethics as much as ecology. And it does all this in an engaging, think-foryourself style." —Taylor Ricketts, Director Conservation Science Program, World Wildlife Fund

"Conservation Science is crisp and straightforward but never oversimplified. Kareiva and Marvier trust their readers with the unanswered questions as well as the achievements of conservation science. The result is a text that presents the field as it truly is: an evolving socioscientific endeavor rather than a dry collection of facts. That the writing is pleasant and clear is the icing on the cake." —Emma Marris, Contributing Correspondent, Nature

"A clear and concise delivery of the state of the art of conservation by two of its best scholars and practitioners." —Mark W. Schwartz, Director, John Muir Institute of the Environment, University of California, Davis

"This book challenges conservation scientists to face discomforting questions. Should we design management plans that are deliberately suboptimal for biodiversity in order to maximize ecosystem services? Might exotic species be tolerated given their contributions to the functioning of ecosystems and the immense cost of their control? Kareiva and Marvier are unapologetic in facing down these and many other tough questions, with an unwavering commitment to practical solutions." —Mark Vellend, Tier II Canada Research Chair in Conservation Biology and Associate Professor, University of British Columbia

"Emphasizing the need for science-based, sustainable ways that humans and nature can share this planet, the authors step away from the traditional crisis approach and instead promote a practical, solutions-oriented, approach to conservation science." —Kent H. Redford, Director, WCS Institute

"Kareiva and Marvier have built their book on the principle that humans are the central ecological fact. This perspective is the only one that can lead to a sustainable future. For too long we have been teaching students about problems without helping them understand how we got here, and most importantly, how we get out." —David Skelly, Professor of Ecology, Yale University

Kareiva and Marvier use numerous case studies to illustrate how basic principles of ecology and evolution can be applied to some of the most challenging problems in contemporary conservation biology. The material emphasizes rigorous critical thinking and quantitative analysis, but is highly accessible due to the clear and engaging writing style. This outstanding book will provide a valuable resource for both teachers and students." —Peter Armbruster, Georgetown University

"Conservation is a people problem. This book provides the framework and science to inform and foster human solutions for an increasingly degraded planet." —P. Dee Boersma, University of Washington

"Conservation Science by Kareiva and Marvier brings fresh perspective to the urgent need to promote conservation in an increasingly human dominated world. Although most conservationists fret (rightly) about the threat to nature’s resiliency of a world population that is growing in numbers, affluence and impact, Kareiva and Marvier emphasize the centrality of humans to any conservation solution, and look for ways to evaluate choices to the benefit of both people and nature. Well illustrated with the most current graphics and biological illustrations, this new text will strike a chord with students and lecturers alike." —J. David Allan, The University of Michigan