A new method for identifying rapid decline dynamics in wild vertebrate populations

Di Fonzo, Martina, Collen, Ben and Mace, Georgina M. (2013) A new method for identifying rapid decline dynamics in wild vertebrate populations. Ecology and Evolution, 3 7: 2378-2391. doi:10.1002/ece3.596

Author Di Fonzo, Martina
Collen, Ben
Mace, Georgina M.
Title A new method for identifying rapid decline dynamics in wild vertebrate populations
Journal name Ecology and Evolution   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2045-7758
Publication date 2013-07-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1002/ece3.596
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 3
Issue 7
Start page 2378
End page 2391
Total pages 14
Place of publication Bognor Regis, West Sussex United Kingdom
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Tracking trends in the abundance of wildlife populations is a sensitive method for assessing biodiversity change due to the short time-lag between human pressures and corresponding shifts in population trends. This study tests for proposed associations between different types of human pressures and wildlife population abundance decline-curves and introduces a method to distinguish decline trajectories from natural fluctuations in population time-series. First, we simulated typical mammalian population time-series under different human pressure types and intensities and identified significant distinctions in population dynamics. Based on the concavity of the smoothed population trend and the algebraic function which was the closest fit to the data, we determined those differences in decline dynamics that were consistently attributable to each pressure type. We examined the robustness of the attribution of pressure type to population decline dynamics under more realistic conditions by simulating populations under different levels of environmental stochasticity and time-series data quality. Finally, we applied our newly developed method to 124 wildlife population time-series and investigated how those threat types diagnosed by our method compare to the specific threatening processes reported for those populations. We show how wildlife population decline curves can be used to discern between broad categories of pressure or threat types, but do not work for detailed threat attributions. More usefully, we find that differences in population decline curves can reliably identify populations where pressure is increasing over time, even when data quality is poor, and propose this method as a cost-effective technique for prioritizing conservation actions between populations.
Keyword Conservation prioritization
Curve fitting
Extinction risk
Second derivative switch points
Threatening process
Living planet index
Extinction risk
Farmland birds
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: CEED Publications
Official 2014 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 16 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 18 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 25 Aug 2013, 10:11:00 EST by System User on behalf of Biodiversity and Conservation Science Ctr