Demographic stability metrics for conservation prioritization of isolated populations

Debra S. Finn, Michael T. Bogan, David A. Lytle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Systems of geographically isolated habitat patches house species that occur naturally as small, disjunct populations. Many of these species are of conservation concern, particularly under the interacting influences of isolation and rapid global change. One potential conservation strategy is to prioritize the populations most likely to persist through change and act as sources for future recolonization of less stable localities. We propose an approach to classify long-term population stability (and, presumably, future persistence potential) with composite demographic metrics derived from standard population-genetic data. Stability metrics can be related to simple habitat measures for a straightforward method of classifying localities to inform conservation management. We tested these ideas in a system of isolated desert headwater streams with mitochondrial sequence data from 16 populations of a flightless aquatic insect. Populations exhibited a wide range of stability scores, which were significantly predicted by dry-season aquatic habitat size. This preliminary test suggests strong potential for our proposed method of classifying isolated populations according to persistence potential. The approach is complementary to existing methods for prioritizing local habitats according to diversity patterns and should be tested further in other systems and with additional loci to inform composite demographic stability scores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1185-1194
Number of pages10
JournalConservation Biology
Volume23
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Abedus herberti
  • Climate change
  • Demographic stability
  • Evolutionary process
  • Habitat stability
  • Headwater streams
  • Isolation
  • Population genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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