Extinction debt: a challenge for biodiversity conservation

Mikko Kuussaari, Riccardo Bommarco, Risto K. Heikkinen, Aveliina Helm, Jochen Krauss, Regina Lindborg, Erik Öckinger, Meelis Pärtel, Joan Pino, Ferran Rodà, Constantí Stefanescu, Tiit Teder, Martin Zobel, Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

767 Citations (Scopus)


Local extinction of species can occur with a substantial delay following habitat loss or degradation. Accumulating evidence suggests that such extinction debts pose a significant but often unrecognized challenge for biodiversity conservation across a wide range of taxa and ecosystems. Species with long generation times and populations near their extinction threshold are most likely to have an extinction debt. However, as long as a species that is predicted to become extinct still persists, there is time for conservation measures such as habitat restoration and landscape management. Standardized long-term monitoring, more high-quality empirical studies on different taxa and ecosystems and further development of analytical methods will help to better quantify extinction debt and protect biodiversity. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-571
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009


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