Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 841–855 | Cite as

Maximizing biodiversity, information and sustainability

  • Charles W. Fowler
Original Paper


Numerous global changes—notably anthropogenic extinction—force reconsideration of our management practices and the ways we regulate human influence in today’s world. Here, I define management to maximize biodiversity and illustrate the science that provides information to set goals for such management. Maximizing biodiversity simultaneously achieves sustainability and systemic health by avoiding the abnormal or pathological. The normal or sustainable are determined through the use of empirical integrative patterns to objectively account for the complexity of systems within which we find ourselves as a species. The science that reveals these integrative patterns provides measures of problems that can be solved by maximizing biodiversity—problems heretofore recognized only qualitatively. I use the Shannon-Weiner information index to test, and, with no surprise, reject the null hypothesis that there is no direct anthropogenic effect on biodiversity. The results of this science serve as examples of the kind of information most useful for guiding management and illustrate maximized biodiversity as a standard for management. Reference points based on maximized biodiversity are preferable to statistical parameters in meeting the objective of avoiding the abnormal or pathological in our interactions with other species, ecosystems and the biosphere. Management to maximize biodiversity is implemented by modifying human interactions with other biotic systems to achieve consistency in such interactions by mimicking natural role models of sustainability. Human influence is a significant factor in today’s world and the magnitude of such influence is illustrated by comparing humans with other species.


Applied macroecology Biosphere restoration Complexity Emergence Footprint Macroecological patterns Systemic health Systemic management 



I thank Gary Duker, Jean Fowler, James Lee, Robert Montgomery, Sue Moore, Jay Ver Hoef and several anonymous individuals for reviews and constructive comments on previous versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Marine Mammal LaboratoryAlaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries ServiceSeattleUSA

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