Recent conservation proposals frequently include the establishment of corridors to connect isolated patches of wildlife habitat. Much attention has been focused on the potential benefits of corridors with little note given to potentially adverse consequences. A simulation model is developed here to study the effect of corridors on the survival of a metapopulation in the presence of a fatal disease that is spread by direct contact between susceptible and infected individuals. For the disease modeled here, a landscape of patches connected by corridors generally suffers fewer metapopulation extinctions than a landscape of isolated patches. However, under a narrow range of conditions, results suggest that corridors may dramatically increase the probability of metapopulation extinction. This occurs when disease‐induced mortality is low enough to allow infected individuals to spread the disease, but high enough to reduce population levels to the point that random demographic and environmental events cause frequent metapopulation extinctions. This has important implications for the design and management of conservation reserve networks. Although discussion focuses primarily on conservation corridors, the model results apply to any management techniques that increase the movement of individuals among populations.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 1994
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