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How to manage a metapopulation.
POSSINGHAM, HUGH1,2, WESTPHAL, MICHAEL1,3, TYRE, ANDREW1, TENHUMBERG, BRIGITTE1, FIELD, SCOTT1,4, 1 2 3 4
ABSTRACT- While there is a growing body of analytic and numerical theory for modelling metapopulations there has been little attempt to apply this theory to help manage threatened species. In this paper we present an example of how a decision theory tool, stochastic dynamic programming, can be used to choose between management actions that minimise the chance of a metapopulation becoming extinct. This optimization tool enables us to select between the management options of creating habitat corridors, enlarging habitat patches, making new patches and recolonizing empty patches. We show that the optimal strategy depends not only on the parameters of the model but also the state of the metapopulation and the state of the landscape. Using results from a variety of situations we are able to tentatively postulate a general theory of how to optimally manage any metapopulation.
KEY WORDS: optimization, metapopulation, conservation, space