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Principles of Conservation Biology: an Overview. Prof. Claire Kremen Univ Cal Berkeley Cal Academy Bioforum Apr 4, 2009. Biodiversity Defined.

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Principles of conservation biology an overview l.jpg

Principles of Conservation Biology: an Overview

Prof. Claire Kremen

Univ Cal Berkeley

Cal Academy Bioforum

Apr 4, 2009


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Biodiversity Defined

  • “Biodiversity is the total variety of life on earth. It includes all genes, species and ecosystems and the ecological processes of which they are a part” (Convention on Biodiversity, 1992)


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Ecological interactions

  • Biodiversity is more than the sum of the parts

  • Interactions “structure” communities, maintain diversity, and make ecosystems work

  • e.g. Competition

  • Predation

  • Mutualisms (e.g. pollination, seed dispersal)


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Evolution and extinction

  • Biodiversity is not static but constantly changing

  • 99% of the species that ever lived have gone extinct

    • Mass extinctions

    • Background extinctions

    • Finite lifetimes


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Conservation biology

  • Concerned with loss of biodiversity, not just loss of species

    • “Fundamental loss of resources in genetics, species, community attributes and ecosystemproperties”

    • Flip side: maintenance of biodiversity, ecological and evolutionary processes


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Why care about biodiversity?

  • Intrinsic value (Muir, 1838-1914)

    • All species have value independently of their utility to humans

  • Utilitarian value (Pinchot, 1865-1946)

    • Species that provide the “greatest good to the greatest number” (over the longest time) have value

  • Cons Bio : (Leopold, 1886-1948)

    • can include both value systems

    • “To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering" (Leopold 1943).


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Aldo Leopold (1886-1948)Evolutionary-Ecological Land Ethic

Biological communities: assemblages of interdependent species

Maintaining the health of natural ecosystems and ecological / evolutionary processes

Humans exist within the ecological community; depend on ecosystem services

Synthetic approach:

Both intrinsic value and utilitarian value


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Why be concerned about biodiversity loss if extinction is a fact of life?

Moderate certainty: current extinction rates > by 100 – 1000 times

10 – 30 % of mammals, birds and amphibians threatened

Is extinction outpacing speciation potential?


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From Wilcove 1996 fact of life?

Major drivers of endangerment

What’s missing?


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Threats to terrestrial species fact of life?

  • Terrestrial habitat loss

  • 39-50% of land surface transformation


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Result of habitat loss fact of life?

  • Reduction in total area  decrease in size, # of populations  local extinctionsfewer species

  • Reduction in habitat diversity

    • Reduced species diversity

    • Cascading effects, co-extinctions


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The forested areas of Warwickshire, England fact of life?

From Primack 2002

Habitat fragmentation

  • Above and beyond habitat loss

  • Isolation: reduced immigration, re-colonization

  • Edge effects


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Invasion fact of life?

The distribution of species on Earth is becoming more homogenous

The rate of invasion is increasing over time

HOMOGENIZATION

Growth in Number of Marine Species Introductions in North America and Europe


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Introduced cheatgrass, fact of life?Bromus tectorum, has transformed the Great Basin shrub-steppe ecosystem

  • Has increased fire frequency from once/80 years to once/4 years!

  • Occupies over 5 million hectares of Great Basin


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Climate change effects on biodiversity fact of life?

  • Range shifts

    • Latitudinal range

    • Altitudinal range

  • Mis-matched interactions

  • Reassembled (scrambled) communities

  • Feedbacks (e.g. vegetation and climate)

  • Species Endangerment


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Climate change endangers polar bears fact of life?

  • Sea ice is the key

    • Bottom up: habitat for micro-algae

    • Top down: seal hunting ground; corridors to dens

  • Loss of sea ice  endangers polar bear

  • Loss of top predator: cascading effects on Arctic food web


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Climate change can induce coral reef bleaching fact of life?

http://www.ogp.noaa.gov/misc/coral/98bleaching/

Bleached and normally pigmented Pocillopora colonies


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Oceans and Freshwater Aquatic habitats fact of life?

  • If anything are more vulnerable to same threats, with enhanced vulnerability to over-exploitation and pollution

  • Freshwater

    • USA: Very high endangerment levels in fish & amphibians (25-40%) and crayfish & molluscs (> 60%) compared to terrestrial vertebrates (15-18%


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Botsford 1997 fact of life?

Over-exploitation of global ocean fisheries

  • > 60% of the world’s fisheries are fully to over exploited, or depleted

  • By-catch increases fish-catch by 30%


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Conserving biodiversity fact of life?

  • Genetic level: seed, egg, sperm banks

  • Population and species level – science of managing small populations

    • Captive breeding (zoos/botanical gardens)

    • Reintroductions

    • Population management in the wild

      • Protection (hunting, disease, habitat)

      • Genetic management (translocations)

      • Habitat restoration


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Conserving biodiversity: habitat, species, ecosystem level fact of life?

  • Protected areas

  • Managing the matrix

    • Restoration

    • Wildlife-friendly agriculture


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Protected areas for Biodiversity Conservation fact of life?

  • Select the areas that represent and maintain biodiversity over time…

    (Margules and Pressey 2000)


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REPRESENTATION fact of life?

Including as many different ecosystems and species in the reserve network

Representing the full range of variation (genetic, ecological) present within target species


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Reserve Design Decision-Support fact of life?

  • Computer programs

  • Meet conservation targets (e.g. conserve 20% of each habitat type and 3 populations of each species) at least cost


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A network of reserves that fact of life?represents species efficiently

  • But it may not be so good at maintaining biodiversity – why not?

Site selection in the Sierra Nevada foothills for conservation prioritization

Grey = already protected


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Maintaining biodiversity over time fact of life?

  • Population persistence (viability)

  • Maintaining ecological processes

    • E.g. migrations

  • Maintaining evolutionary processes

    • Potential for adaptation within populations (genetic diversity)

    • Selecting areas where rapid speciation is occurring

  • Response to climate change


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Reserve design features for persistence fact of life?

SIZE

Edge to area ratio

Disturbance regime

Shape

Environmental gradients

Functional units

Corridors

Matrix habitat

CONNECTIVITY


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SIZE fact of life?

Larger size 

  • More species (interactions, functions), S-A relationship

  • More habitats (interactions, functions)

  • Larger populations –

  • Protects vulnerable species

    • Area demanding: large-bodied, high-trophic level, rare

    • Habitat specialists (if habitat included)

    • Species requiring multiple habitat types

  • Shape Reduced edge/area ratio, edge effects

  • Disturbance regime: maintenance of disturbance-generated patch heterogeneity

  • Includes whole functional units

  • Includes whole environmental gradients


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From fact of life?

Primack 2002

SIZE & EDGE EFFECTS

Edges create core versus edge habitat

Example: many songbirds experience high nest predation near edges in woodlots within sub-urban areas


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Meffe & Carroll 1997 fact of life?

Shape and edge effects


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DISTURBANCE REGIME fact of life?

  • Disturbance promotes habitat heterogeneity

    • By resetting successional sequence in parts of the landscape

    • Creating patchiness in the landscape which is determined by the temporal and spatial scale of the disturbance(s)



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SIZE & DISTURBANCE REGIME fact of life?

  • Disturbance promotes habitat heterogeneity

    • mosaic of patches at different successional stages

  • Habitat heterogeneity:

    • supports species requiring multiple habitat types

    • Supports early successional species (e.g. Heath fritillary butterfly = “Woodman’s follower”)

  • Size of reserve  ideally as big as or bigger than scale of likely disturbances


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Functionally inter-dependent ecosystems: fact of life?e.g. “a complex, dynamic patchwork of mangroves, sea grass bed and reefs” (Moberg & Ronnback 2003)

SIZE & FUNCTIONAL UNITS


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Reserve design features for persistence fact of life?

SIZE: Bigger is better!

Edge to area ratio

Disturbance regime

Shape

Environmental gradients

Functional units

Corridors

Matrix habitat

CONNECTIVITY


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CONNECTIVITY fact of life?

  • Isolation is a key factor causing loss of species from reserves

    • Preventing gene flow, maintenance of genetic diversity

    • Reducing recolonization following extinction (rescue effect)

    • Preventing access between summer/winter grounds for migratory species

    • Preventing access to multiple habitat types needed for different life stages

    • Preventing response to global warming


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CONNECTIVITY: Multi-scale responses fact of life?

  • RESPONSE

  • Create corridors between reserves

  • Manage the matrix around reserves

PROBLEM of FRAGMENTATION

  • Preventing gene flow, maintenance of genetic diversity

  • Reducing recolonization following extinction (rescue effect)

  • Preventing access between summer/winter grounds for migratory species

  • Preventing access to multiple habitat types needed for different life stages

  • Preventing response to global warming


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Wildlife overpass fact of life?

Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century provides funding

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/wildlifecrossings/overview.htm


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Managing the Matrix fact of life?

Making matrix “friendly” to wildlife

-- Reserve zonation: core, buffer, transition

-- Wildlife friendly farming/Restoration

Noss and Cooperrider 1994,modified from Harris 1984


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CONNECTIVITY: Multi-scale responses fact of life?

  • RESPONSE

  • Create corridors between reserves

  • Manage the matrix around reserves

  • Protect migratory routes/stop-overs

PROBLEM of FRAGMENTATION

  • Preventing gene flow, maintenance of genetic diversity

  • Reducing recolonization following extinction (rescue effect)

  • Preventing access between summer/winter grounds for migratory species

  • Preventing access to multiple habitat types needed for different life stages

  • Preventing response to global warming


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Stop-over sites along songbird migration routes fact of life?

  • Neotropical birds

  • Use radar to detect nocturnal bird movement

    • Timed to get departure events from stopover points (20-40 min after sunset)

    • Signal characteristics

Breeding

wintering

http://www.njaudubon.org/Education/Oases/RadImages.html


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CONNECTIVITY: Multi-scale responses fact of life?

  • RESPONSE

  • Create corridors between reserves

  • Manage the matrix around reserves

  • Protect migratory routes/stop-overs

  • Include whole functional units, disturbance regimes, environmental gradients within reserves or reserve networks

  • Include elevational or latitudinal gradients within reserves

PROBLEM of FRAGMENTATION

  • Preventing gene flow, maintenance of genetic diversity

  • Reducing recolonization following extinction (rescue effect)

  • Preventing access between summer/winter grounds for migratory species

  • Preventing access to multiple habitat types needed for different life stages

  • Preventing response to global warming


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Designing Masoala National Park, Madagascar fact of life?

  • Habitat heterogeneity – connectedness between habitats, marine and terrestrial

  • Species response to climate change: Include elevational gradients within reserve

  • Masoala, Madagascar


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New Reserve Design Methods fact of life?

  • Represent species or habitats efficiently

  • Minimize edge effects, maximize clustering

  • Maximize connectivity

Leslie et al. 2003 Ecol App.


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Conclusions fact of life?

  • Biodiversity has great value, both intrinsically, and also because human life depends on it

  • But, it is under threat, from habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, climate change, pollution and over-exploitation

  • Conservation biologists have many tools to protect biological diversity, from genetic to ecosystem levels.


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Conclusions fact of life?

  • Protected areas are an important tool for biodiversity conservation.

  • The design of protected areas and reserve networks should foster representation of biodiversity and its persistence.

    • Reserves need to be sited efficiently to represent biodiversity.

    • Size, shape and connectivity of reserves and relationship with the surrounding landscape matrix are essential considerations for biodiversity persistence.


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