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

Chauvenet, A. L. M., Baxter, P. W. J., McDonald-Madden, E., & Possingham, H. P. (2010) Optimal allocation of conservation effort among subpopulations of a threatened species: How important is patch quality? Ecological Applications, 20(3), pp. 789-797.

View at publisher


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.

Impact and interest:

17 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™
12 citations in Web of Science®

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 82398
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Decision theory, Endangered species conservation, Habitat fragmentation, Indonesia, Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP), Management efficiency, Optimization, Panthera tigris sumatrae, Rule of thumb, Stochastic dynamic programming (SDP), Sumatran tiger, endangered species, felid, guideline, habitat management, limiting factor, local extinction, national park, stochasticity, subpopulation, animal, article, biological model, comparative study, economics, ecosystem, environmental protection, population, species extinction, statistical model, tiger, Animals, Conservation of Natural Resources, Extinction, Biological, Models, Biological, Models, Economic, Tigers, Greater Sunda Islands, Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra, Sunda Isles
DOI: 10.1890/08-1749.1
ISSN: 10510761 (ISSN)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Ecological Society of America
Deposited On: 10 Mar 2015 07:25
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2015 03:58

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page