Optimal conservation of migratory species

Martin, Tara G., Chadès, Iadine, Arcese, Peter, Marra, Peter P., Possingham, Hugh P. and Norris, D. Ryan (2007) Optimal conservation of migratory species. PLoS One, 2 8: e751.1-e751.5. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000751

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Author Martin, Tara G.
Chadès, Iadine
Arcese, Peter
Marra, Peter P.
Possingham, Hugh P.
Norris, D. Ryan
Title Optimal conservation of migratory species
Journal name PLoS One   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2007-08-15
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0000751
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 2
Issue 8
Start page e751.1
End page e751.5
Total pages 5
Editor Peter Jones
Place of publication San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.
Publisher Public Library of Science
Language eng
Subject 300800 Environmental Sciences
06 Biological Sciences
Formatted abstract
Background Migratory animals comprise a significant portion of biodiversity worldwide with annual investment for their conservation exceeding several billion dollars. Designing effective conservation plans presents enormous challenges. Migratory species are influenced by multiple events across land and sea–regions that are often separated by thousands of kilometres and span international borders. To date, conservation strategies for migratory species fail to take into account how migratory animals are spatially connected between different periods of the annual cycle (i.e. migratory connectivity) bringing into question the utility and efficiency of current conservation efforts.

Methodology/Principal Findings Here, we report the first framework for determining an optimal conservation strategy for a migratory species. Employing a decision theoretic approach using dynamic optimization, we address the problem of how to allocate resources for habitat conservation for a Neotropical-Nearctic migratory bird, the American redstart Setophaga ruticilla, whose winter habitat is under threat. Our first conservation strategy used the acquisition of winter habitat based on land cost, relative bird density, and the rate of habitat loss to maximize the abundance of birds on the wintering grounds. Our second strategy maximized bird abundance across the entire range of the species by adding the constraint of maintaining a minimum percentage of birds within each breeding region in North America using information on migratory connectivity as estimated from stable-hydrogen isotopes in feathers. We show that failure to take into account migratory connectivity may doom some regional populations to extinction, whereas including information on migratory connectivity results in the protection of the species across its entire range.

Conclusions/Significance We demonstrate that conservation strategies for migratory animals depend critically upon two factors: knowledge of migratory connectivity and the correct statement of the conservation problem. Our framework can be used to identify efficient conservation strategies for migratory taxa worldwide, including insects, birds, mammals, and marine organisms.
Keyword Biodiversity
Ecological specialization
Habitat selection
Migratory species
Seasonal variation
Species extinction
Wildlife conservation
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Mon, 17 Sep 2007, 15:40:09 EST by Ms Sarah Boulter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences