Population abundance is critically important in conservation, management, and demographic theory. Thus, to better understand how perturbations to the life history affect long-term population size, we examined population momentum for four vertebrate classes with different life history strategies. In a series of demographic experiments we show that population momentum generally has a larger effect on long-term population size for organisms with long generation times than for organisms with short generation times. However, patterns between population momentum and generation time varied across taxonomic groups and according to the life history parameter that was changed. Our findings indicate that momentum may be an especially important aspect of population dynamics for long-lived vertebrates, and deserves greater attention in life history studies. Further, we discuss the importance of population momentum in natural resource management, pest control, and conservation arenas. ?? 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.