Skip to main content


Match between conservation scaling and ecological scaling

Research Achievements

Match between conservation scaling and ecological scaling

How does conservation allow species to persist? The answer depends on the match between conservation scaling and ecological scaling. Research on the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard lends insight to the challenge of conservation scaling. Fitzgerald’s team demonstrated lizards live in neighborhoods (Ryberg etal). Dispersal from thriving neighborhoods maintains the regional population; low quality neighborhoods decline. Neighborhood quality is tied to the landscape: Healthy Landscape = Healthy Neighborhood. Fragmentation at big scales from roads in oil fields causes less abundance and loss of species locally in this system (Leavitt/Fitzgerald). Policies call for local habitat protection, but these measures do not match ecological scaling, and may not prevent landscape fragmentation. Mismatch between conservation and ecological scaling is a pervasive challenge. Nevertheless, this case shows the importance of research that informs development of conservation policies that match ecological scaling.