Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs


A minimum viable population (MVP) size is estimated for the critically endangered black-footed ferret by examining five basic methods: experiments, biogeographic patterns, theoretical models, simulation models, and genetic considerations. Each method is evaluated for its applicability to the feret and endangered species in general with two criteria in mind: (1) potential research impacts to target species and (2) the value of scientific accuracy and precision in relation to short-term conservation needs. For the black-footed ferret, the genetic method proved to be the most useful, resulting in an MVP estimate of about 200 ferrets for maintenance of short-term fitness. For most endangered species, a combination of the simulation and genetic methods will probably yield the best estimate of MVP size. MVP estimates have direct implications for future research, management, and recovery efforts of endangered species.