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Originally published as: David, W. M., & Davis, R. A. Hopeful Monsters–in Defence of Quests to Rediscover Long‐Lost Species. Conservation Letters.10(4) 382-383. . Original article available here


Wild goose chase, snipe hunt, fool’s errand—these retorts typify responses of many biologists to news that someone is searching for a species considered extinct. Although these ventures can damage reputations and may offer false hope regarding the finality of extinction, genuine conservation gains often result, even for those quests that prove unsuccessful. As well as enhanced protection for regions where rediscovered species persist and new information of direct management relevance for co-occurring species, well-planned searches for long-lost species represent valuable engagement opportunities to raise awareness in the wider community about biodiversity conservation and science generally. Indeed, we suggest that “Lazarus species” (organisms rediscovered having been presumed extinct, after Dawson et al. 2006) provide beacons of hope in an increasingly desperate scramble to conserve species, shining a light on dark diversity and reminding us that population trajectories can have exceedingly long tails.



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