Inferring functional extinction based on sighting records Academic Article uri icon


  • The term functional extinction is used to describe a permanent failure of reproduction or recruitment in a population. Functional extinction results in a truncation of the age distribution, but this can be very difficult to detect in poorly studied populations. Here, we describe a novel statistical method for detecting functional extinction based on a sighting record of individuals of known or estimated ages. The method is based on a simple population dynamics model and simulation results show that it works well even with limited data. The method is illustrated using a sighting record of the ship sturgeon (Acipenser nudiventris) in the Danube River. The results indicate that this population is functionally extinct, most likely by 2002. Management implications of this finding are discussed.

publication date

  • July 2016