Response variables for evaluation of the effectiveness of conservation corridors

Andrew J. Gregory, Paul Beier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many studies have evaluated effectiveness of corridors by measuring species presence in and movement through small structural corridors. However, few studies have assessed whether these response variables are adequate for assessing whether the conservation goals of the corridors have been achieved or considered the costs or lag times involved in measuring the response variables. We examined 4 response variables-presence of the focal species in the corridor, interpatch movement via the corridor, gene flow, and patch occupancy-with respect to 3 criteria-relevance to conservation goals, lag time (fewest generations at which a positive response to the corridor might be evident with a particular variable), and the cost of a study when applying a particular variable. The presence variable had the least relevance to conservation goals, no lag time advantage compared with interpatch movement, and only a moderate cost advantage over interpatch movement or gene flow. Movement of individual animals between patches was the most appropriate response variable for a corridor intended to provide seasonal migration, but it was not an appropriate response variable for corridor dwellers, and for passage species it was only moderately relevant to the goals of gene flow, demographic rescue, and recolonization. Response variables related to gene flow provided a good trade-off among cost, relevance to conservation goals, and lag time. Nonetheless, the lag time of 10-20 generations means that evaluation of conservation corridors cannot occur until a few decades after a corridor has been established. Response variables related to occupancy were most relevant to conservation goals, but the lag time and costs to detect corridor effects on occupancy were much greater than the lag time and costs to detect corridor effects on gene flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)689-695
Number of pages7
JournalConservation Biology
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2014

Keywords

  • Animal movement
  • Corridor evaluation
  • Fragmentation
  • Gene flow
  • Occupancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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