|Marine biological diversity: conserving life in the neglected ninety-nine percent|
Marine conservation biology is a synthesis whose time has come. As a marine scientist striving to promote the development of this new science, I have taken as a model the multidisciplinary science of terrestrial conservation biology, a growing scientific field that has made an enormous contribution toward resolving complex questions that traditional disciplinary approaches had shed little light on. For example, before the advent of conservation biology, traditionally trained silviculturalists could inform us on yields of board-feet of timber, but they could not tell us about the demography of spotted owls or describe the relationship between owl populations and the distribution of trees. Likewise, landscape ecologists could look at patterns of landscape features but they could not explain how those patterns reflected the genetics of tree populations. Such phenomena seemed to be unrelated until terrestrial conservation biology brought together zoologists and botanists, pure scientists and applied scientists, and natural scientists and social scientists. As a synthetic science, conservation biology has achieved a great deal for land conservation in the United States and elsewhere. Marine conservation biology is about twenty years behind conservation biology on land, but hopefully this fledgling discipline will catch up and make contributions on a similar scale in the marine realm.