Conservation Triage: Debating Which Species to Save and Why



Because of human impacts on the biosphere, so many species are now threatened with extinction that it may not be possible to save them all. Akin to triage in a medical emergency situation, this challenge has brought forth the idea of conservation triage: having to make difficult choices and justifications about which species should be saved and which might not be savable. The goal of the learning activity described in this chapter is to engage students in this debate so they can gain insights into real-world conservation challenges and practice critical thinking and decision making skills in an authentic context. Students conduct preparatory research about endangered species, present their findings in class presentations and debate which species should receive conservation priority through instructor-guided decision-making. After completing the activity, students should be able to (1) describe various factors that affect species endangerment and conservation status; (2) define triage and apply the concept to examining sets of endangered species; (3) discuss the information needed and factors to consider when making conservation triage decisions; (4) articulate personal views about the value of different endangered species; and (5) explain how ethics and personal values relate to the study and practice of conservation biology.


Endangered species Conservation triage Student debates Learner-centered teaching 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, Marine Biology & Environmental ScienceRoger Williams UniversityBristolUSA

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