Using mathematical optimization models to design nature reserves

Justin C. Williams, Charles S. ReVelle, Simon Asher Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Designing an optimal nature reserve for the protection of biological diversity has been a long-standing challenge in conservation biology. A fundamental question has always been, which areas of land should be set aside. During the past two decades, quantitative methods from the field of operations research have been applied to the problem of selecting reserve sites. Here, we trace the development of decision models for systematic reserve design, from the iterative methods developed in the 1980s to the sophisticated spatial models being formulated today. Collaborations among ecologists, conservation biologists, and operations researchers have been key to the progress made thus far. We expect that mathematical reserve design models will become more widely used, in response to a growing need to identify effective alternatives for complex conservation problems worldwide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-105
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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