Optimal allocation of conservation effort among subpopulations of a threatened species: How important is patch quality?

Chauvenet, Aliénor L. M., Baxter, Peter W. J., McDonald-Madden, Eve and Possingham, Hugh P. (2010) Optimal allocation of conservation effort among subpopulations of a threatened species: How important is patch quality?. Ecological Applications, 20 3: 789-797. doi:10.1890/08-1749.1

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Author Chauvenet, Aliénor L. M.
Baxter, Peter W. J.
McDonald-Madden, Eve
Possingham, Hugh P.
Title Optimal allocation of conservation effort among subpopulations of a threatened species: How important is patch quality?
Journal name Ecological Applications   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1051-0761
Publication date 2010-04
Year available 2010
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1890/08-1749.1
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 20
Issue 3
Start page 789
End page 797
Total pages 9
Place of publication Washington DC, United States
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Money is often a limiting factor in conservation, and attempting to conserve endangered species can be costly. Consequently, a framework for optimizing fiscally constrained conservation decisions for a single species is needed. In this paper we find the optimal budget allocation among isolated subpopulations of a threatened species to minimize local extinction probability. We solve the problem using stochastic dynamic programming, derive a useful and simple alternative guideline for allocating funds, and test its performance using forward simulation. The model considers subpopulations that persist in habitat patches of differing quality, which in our model is reflected in different relationships between money invested and extinction risk. We discover that, in most cases, subpopulations that are less efficient to manage should receive more money than those that are more efficient to manage, due to higher investment needed to reduce extinction risk. Our simple investment guideline performs almost as well as the exact optimal strategy. We illustrate our approach with a case study of the management of the Sumatran tiger, Panthera tigris sumatrae, in Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP), Indonesia. We find that different budgets should be allocated to the separate tiger subpopulations in KSNP. The subpopulation that is not at risk of extinction does not require any management investment. Based on the combination of risks of extinction and habitat quality, the optimal allocation for these particular tiger subpopulations is an unusual case: subpopulations that occur in higher-quality habitat (more efficient to manage) should receive more funds than the remaining subpopulation that is in lower-quality habitat. Because the yearly budget allocated to the KSNP for tiger conservation is small, to guarantee the persistence of all the subpopulations that are currently under threat we need to prioritize those that are easier to save. When allocating resources among subpopulations of a threatened species, the combined effects of differences in habitat quality, cost of action, and current subpopulation probability of extinction need to be integrated. We provide a useful guideline for allocating resources among isolated subpopulations of any threatened species. © 2010 by the Ecological Society of America.
Keyword Decision theory
Endangered species conservation
Habitat fragmentation
Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP), Indonesia
Management efficiency
Panthera tigris sumatrae
Rule of thumb
Stochastic dynamic programming (SDP)
Sumatran tiger
Optimal translocation strategies
Optimal fire management
Habitat fragmentation
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Mathematics and Physics
Official 2011 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 12 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 17 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 16 May 2010, 00:06:59 EST