Application of isoscapes to determine geographic origin of terrestrial wildlife for conservation and management

Biological Conservation
By: , and 

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Abstract

Accounting for migration and connectivity of mobile species across the annual cycle can present challenges for conservation and management efforts. The use of stable isotope approaches to examine the movements and ecology of wildlife has been widespread over the past two decades. Hydrogen stable isotope (δ2H) composition, in particular, has been frequently used to provide insight into the origin of migratory species, although isotopes of other elements are sometimes used. These intrinsic markers can yield valuable information about distributions of wildlife on a broad scale, with reduced labor and expense compared to tracking and telemetry. Many of the applications of isotopes to migratory species to date have addressed connectivity and origin, and studies in support of conservation biology are less common. In addition, there are few guides for how to best employ these methods for management. Therefore, we provide an overview for the wildlife conservation and management community on how stable isotope methods may be applied to conservation problems and a primer on the process for assigning geographic origins to terrestrial wildlife. We also discuss best practices for employing environmental isoscapes (isotopic distributions across landscapes), rescaling functions, and the assumptions required for assignment to origin while highlighting emerging issues in the modeling process. Finally, we provide example applications to illustrate these principles, and we explore strengths and limitations of this approach in a conservation context.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Application of isoscapes to determine geographic origin of terrestrial wildlife for conservation and management
Series title Biological Conservation
DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.10.019
Volume 228
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 268
Last page 280