UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Accounting for long-term persistence of multiple species in systematic conservation planning Strimas-Mackey, Matthew


Protected areas form the cornerstone of global efforts to conserve biodiversity. The goal of systematic conservation planning is to design protected area networks that secure the long term persistence of biodiversity. However, most current methods focus on maximizing the representation of species and don’t explicitly plan for the persistence of those species in the protected landscapes into the future. In this thesis, I present a new tool for systematic reserve design that optimizes the configuration of reserve networks to maximize persistence across multiple species. This method is based on metapopulation capacity, a relative, asymptotic metric of persistence derived from a spatially explicit metapopulation model. This metric requires few parameters to calculate, and incorporates the size and spatial configuration of reserves as well as species-specific dispersal dynamics among them. I demonstrate this method using a case study in Indonesian New Guinea with 114 terrestrial mammal species. Compared to Marxan, the most popular representation-based reserve design tool, my persistence-based method led to a 2.3-times increase in mean metapopulation capacity across all species. At the level of individual species, I identified two distinct groups: those that experienced significant benefits from the persistence-based approach and those for which the Marxan solution was nearly as good or slightly better. This thesis demonstrates that systematic reserve design can account for species persistence in an ecologically meaningful way, and that this approach can yield significant gains compared to traditional methods.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International