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Extinction surveys guide funding for research on species requiring remedial conservation action.


Of fundamental importance, the CREO research program will draw attention to "lost" species for which there is sparse supporting evidence of a presumed extinction. Collar (1998) has stated that perhaps the most significant "commitment to extinction" is "when we declare species extinct too soon, sealing them off from further investigation." Such assumptions, he adds, "can become self-fulfilling." Development of a methodology that comprehensively documents available extinction information will indicate gaps in our knowledge of putative extinctions, possibly even revealing species that have been erroneously labeled extinct. Consequently, it will be possible to develop very precisely defined field projects based on searches for "lost" species. Such projects tend to attract significant scientific and public interest. Field proposals based on the detailed and accurate data that CREO is collecting will be better able to attract financial support.

AN EXAMPLE...

Results of a recent analysis of freshwater fish extinctions (Harrison and Stiassny, 1999), have encouraged Natural History magazine to provide funding for I.J. Harrison and Colombian colleagues to survey the Colombian lake that is home to a species of fish (Rhizosomichthys totae) -- long considered extinct, yet never field tested.

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