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Visualization of model initialization and management comparisons after 30 years of simulation from Comparing management strategies for conserving communities of climate-threatened species with a stochastic metacommunity model

journal contribution
posted on 14.05.2022, 12:50 by Gregory A. Backus, Yansong Huang, Marissa L. Baskett
Many species are shifting their ranges to keep pace with climate change, but habitat fragmentation and limited dispersal could impede these range shifts. In the case of climate-vulnerable foundation species such as tropical reef corals and temperate forest trees, such limitations might put entire communities at risk of extinction. Restoring connectivity through corridors, stepping-stones or enhanced quality of existing patches could prevent the extinction of several species, but dispersal-limited species might not benefit if other species block their dispersal. Alternatively, managers might relocate vulnerable species between habitats through assisted migration, but this is generally a species-by-species approach. To evaluate the relative efficacy of these strategies, we simulated the climate-tracking of species in randomized competitive metacommunities with alternative management interventions. We found that corridors and assisted migration were the most effective strategies at reducing extinction. Assisted migration was especially effective at reducing the extinction likelihood for short-dispersing species, but it often required moving several species repeatedly. Assisted migration was more effective at reducing extinction in environments with higher stochasticity, and corridors were more effective at reducing extinction in environments with lower stochasticity. We discuss the application of these approaches to an array of systems ranging from tropical corals to temperate forests.This article is part of the theme issue ‘Ecological complexity and the biosphere: the next 30 years’.