Conservation Science Blog

New research relevant to conservation in western North America

The Conservation Science Blog is intended to bring new and relevant research to the attention of conservation scientists, and facilitate discussion on how to apply this science to further conservation goals in western North America.

Connectivity Analysis Toolkit Beta Program

Conservation planners increasingly seek to consider both biodiversity process and pattern in reserve design. However, in part due to computational limitations, most current reserve design tools remained focused on either 1) the selection of sites that capture elements of biodiversity pattern but ignore connectivity, or 2) connectivity mapping methods that have key limitations, such as the need to identify in advance the source and target of linkages. We have developed a software ‘toolkit’ that combines several new connectivity analysis and mapping methods. These methods provide a means to quantitatively incorporate connectivity within the planning process, while overcoming some of the limitations of previous linkage mapping methods. We hope to release the software for beta testing in August-September 2010. If you would like to be informed of the availability of the beta release, please go to the
Beta release registration page


Posted in Climate change, Endangered species management |

Investing in biodiversity – New paper uses stock portfolio analysis to demonstrate the value of diverse salmon stocks

Biodiversity conservation efforts often focus on preventing loss of species or ecological communities. But increasing attention is being focused on the importance of diversity below the species level, for example, between populations within a species. A new study published in the journal Conservation Letters uses economic portfolio theory to analyze data from salmon stocks in Idaho’s Snake River and Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The Idaho populations, which are heavily impacted by dams and habitat modification, were found to resemble a portfolio whose assets were highly synchronized, while the diversity among the less-impacted Alaska populations made them resemble the ideal well-balanced stock portfolio that provides constant returns over time. ‘Returns’ can be either a sustainable fishery without boom-and-bust cycles, or lower extinction risk in unharvested stocks. This lesson applies to terrestrial species as well, where inter-population diversity could aid retention of the potential to adapt to changing climates and other ecological dynamics. Although the paper’s theme is intuitive, the new methods the authors apply could help increase consideration of the value of biodiversity by policymakers.

Full article is here


Posted in Endangered species management |