Using metapopulation theory for practical conservation of mangrove endemic birds.
As a landscape becomes increasingly fragmented through habitat loss, the individual patches become smaller and more isolated and thus less likely to sustain a local population. Metapopulation theory is appropriate for analyzing fragmented landscapes because it combines empirical landscape features with species-specific information to produce direct information on population extinction risks. This approach contrasts with descriptions of habitat fragments, which provide only indirect information on risk. Combining a spatially explicit metapopulation model with empirical data on endemic species' ranges and maps of habitat cover, we calculated the metapopulation capacity-a measure of a landscape's ability to sustain a metapopulation. Mangroves provide an ideal model landscape because they are of conservation concern and their patch boundaries are easily delineated. For 2000-20015, we calculated global metapopulation capacity for 99 metapopulations of 32 different bird species endemic to mangroves. Northern Australia and Southeast Asia had the highest richness of mangrove endemic birds. The Caribbean, Pacific coast of Central America, Madagascar, Borneo, and isolated patches in Southeast Asia in Myanmar and Malaysia had the highest metapopulation losses. Regions with the highest loss of habitat area were not necessarily those with the highest loss of metapopulation capacity. Often, it was not a matter of how much, but how the habitat was lost. Our method can be used by managers to evaluate and prioritize a landscape for metapopulation persistence.
Huang, R; Pimm, SL; Giri, C
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