Risk Analysis

Evaluation of Two Approaches to Defining Extinction Risk under the U.S. Endangered Species Act

Journal Article

Abstract

The predominant definition of extinction risk in conservation biology involves evaluating the cumulative distribution function (CDF) of extinction time at a particular point (the “time horizon”). Using the principles of decision theory, this article develops an alternative definition of extinction risk as the expected loss (EL) to society resulting from eventual extinction of a species. Distinct roles are identified for time preference and risk aversion. Ranges of tentative values for the parameters of the two approaches are proposed, and the performances of the two approaches are compared and contrasted for a small set of real‐world species with published extinction time distributions and a large set of hypothetical extinction time distributions. Potential issues with each approach are evaluated, and the EL approach is recommended as the better of the two. The CDF approach suffers from the fact that extinctions that occur at any time before the specified time horizon are weighted equally, while extinctions that occur beyond the specified time horizon receive no weight at all. It also suffers from the fact that the time horizon does not correspond to any natural phenomenon, and so is impossible to specify nonarbitrarily; yet the results can depend critically on the specified value. In contrast, the EL approach has the advantage of weighting extinction time continuously, with no artificial time horizon, and the parameters of the approach (the rates of time preference and risk aversion) do correspond to natural phenomena, and so can be specified nonarbitrarily.

Related Topics

Related Publications

Related Content

Site Footer

Address:

This website is provided by John Wiley & Sons Limited, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 8SQ (Company No: 00641132, VAT No: 376766987)

Published features on StatisticsViews.com are checked for statistical accuracy by a panel from the European Network for Business and Industrial Statistics (ENBIS)   to whom Wiley and StatisticsViews.com express their gratitude. This panel are: Ron Kenett, David Steinberg, Shirley Coleman, Irena Ograjenšek, Fabrizio Ruggeri, Rainer Göb, Philippe Castagliola, Xavier Tort-Martorell, Bart De Ketelaere, Antonio Pievatolo, Martina Vandebroek, Lance Mitchell, Gilbert Saporta, Helmut Waldl and Stelios Psarakis.