Subpopulation triage: How to allocate conservation effort among populations

McDonald-Madden, E., Baxter, P. W. J., & Possingham, H. P. (2008) Subpopulation triage: How to allocate conservation effort among populations. Conservation Biology, 22(3), pp. 656-665.

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Abstract

Threatened species often exist in a small number of isolated subpopulations. Given limitations on conservation spending, managers must choose from strategies that range from managing just one subpopulation and risking all other subpopulations to managing all subpopulations equally and poorly, thereby risking the loss of all subpopulations. We took an economic approach to this problem in an effort to discover a simple rule of thumb for optimally allocating conservation effort among subpopulations. This rule was derived by maximizing the expected number of extant subpopulations remaining given n subpopulations are actually managed. We also derived a spatiotemporally optimized strategy through stochastic dynamic programming. The rule of thumb suggested that more subpopulations should be managed if the budget increases or if the cost of reducing local extinction probabilities decreases. The rule performed well against the exact optimal strategy that was the result of the stochastic dynamic program and much better than other simple strategies (e.g., always manage one extant subpopulation or half of the remaining subpopulation). We applied our approach to the allocation of funds in 2 contrasting case studies: reduction of poaching of Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae) and habitat acquisition for San Joaquin kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis mutica). For our estimated annual budget for Sumatran tiger management, the mean time to extinction was about 32 years. For our estimated annual management budget for kit foxes in the San Joaquin Valley, the mean time to extinction was approximately 24 years. Our framework allows managers to deal with the important question of how to allocate scarce conservation resources among subpopulations of any threatened species. © 2008 Society for Conservation Biology.

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29 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 82409
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Decision theory, Financial resource allocation, Optimal management, Rule of thumb, San Joaquin kit fox, Stochastic dynamic programming, Sumatran tiger, Threatened species, canid, cost-benefit analysis, endangered species, extinction risk, felid, financial provision, local extinction, resource allocation, species conservation, stochasticity, subpopulation, animal, article, biological model, ecosystem, environmental protection, fox, Indonesia, methodology, population density, statistical model, statistics, tiger, United States, Animals, California, Conservation of Natural Resources, Foxes, Models, Biological, Models, Economic, Stochastic Processes, Tigers, North America, San Joaquin Valley, Panthera, Panthera tigris sumatrae, Vulpes, Vulpes macrotis mutica
DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.00918.x
ISSN: 08888892 (ISSN)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Blackwell Publishing
Deposited On: 10 Mar 2015 07:01
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2015 05:12

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