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Bet-hedging applications for conservation

Boyce, M. S., Kirsch, E. M., and Servheen, C., 2002, Bet-hedging applications for conservation: Journal of Biosciences, v. 27, no. 4, p. 385-392.


One of the early tenets of conservation biology is that population viability is enhanced by maintaining multiple populations of a species. The strength of this tenet is justified by principles of bet-hedging. Management strategies that reduce variance in population size will also reduce risk of extinction. Asynchrony in population fluctuations in independent populations reduces variance in the aggregate of populations whereas environmental correlation among areas increases the risk that all populations will go extinct. We review the theoretical rationale of bet-hedging and suggest applications for conservation management of least terns in Nebraska and grizzly bears in the northern Rocky Mountains of the United States. The risk of extinction for least terns will be reduced if we can sustain the small central Platte River population in addition to the larger population on the lower Platte. Similarly, by restoring grizzly bears to the Bitterroot wilderness of Idaho and Montana can reduce the probability of extinction for grizzly bears in the Rocky Mountains of the United States by as much as 69-93%.


bet hedging, Bitterroot wilderness, environmental correlation, grizzly bear, least tern, Sterna antillarum, Ursus arctos horribilis, least tern, evolutionary bets, population, extinction, dispersal, times

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