A Protocol for Better Design, Application, and Communication of Population Viability Analyses

G. Pe'er, Y.G. Matsinos, K. Johst, K.W. Franz, C. Turlure, V. Radchuk, A.H. Malinowska, J.M.R. Curtis, I. Naujokaitis-Lewis, B.A. Wintle, K. Henle

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54 Citations (Scopus)


Population viability analyses (PVAs) contribute to conservation theory, policy, and management. Most PVAs focus on single species within a given landscape and address a specific problem. This specificity often is reflected in the organization of published PVA descriptions. Many lack structure, making them difficult to understand, assess, repeat, or use for drawing generalizations across PVA studies. In an assessment comparing published PVAs and existing guidelines, we found that model selection was rarely justified; important parameters remained neglected or their implementation was described vaguely; limited details were given on parameter ranges, sensitivity analysis, and scenarios; and results were often reported too inconsistently to enable repeatability and comparability. Although many guidelines exist on how to design and implement reliable PVAs and standards exist for documenting and communicating ecological models in general, there is a lack of organized guidelines for designing, applying, and communicating PVAs that account for their diversity of structures and contents. To fill this gap, we integrated published guidelines and recommendations for PVA design and application, protocols for documenting ecological models in general and individual-based models in particular, and our collective experience in developing, applying, and reviewing PVAs. We devised a comprehensive protocol for the design, application, and communication of PVAs (DAC-PVA), which has 3 primary elements. The first defines what a useful PVA is; the second element provides a workflow for the design and application of a useful PVA and highlights important aspects that need to be considered during these processes; and the third element focuses on communication of PVAs to ensure clarity, comprehensiveness, repeatability, and comparability. Thereby, DAC-PVA should strengthen the credibility and relevance of PVAs for policy and management, and improve the capacity to generalize PVA findings across studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)644-656
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • management options
  • biodiversity conservation
  • environmental-management
  • dynamic landscapes
  • density regulation
  • spotted owl
  • models
  • metapopulation
  • connectivity
  • uncertainty


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