Wildlife populations are experiencing shifting dynamics due to climate and landscape change. Management policies that fail to account for non‐stationary dynamics may fail to achieve management objectives. We establish a framework for understanding optimal strategies for managing a theoretical harvested population under non‐stationarity. Building from harvest theory, we develop scenarios representing changes in population growth rate () or carrying capacity () and derive time‐dependent optimal harvest policies using stochastic dynamic programming. We then evaluate the cost of falsely assuming stationarity by comparing the outcomes of forward projections in which either the optimal policy or a stationary policy is applied. When declines over time, the stationary policy leads to an underharvest of the population, resulting in less harvest over the short term but leaving the population in a higher‐value state. When declines over time, the stationary policy leads to overharvest, resulting in greater harvest returns in the short term but leaving the population in a lower and potentially more vulnerable state. This work demonstrates the basic properties of time‐dependent harvest management and provides a framework for evaluating the many outstanding questions about optimal management strategies under climate change. Published 2021. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Optimal strategies for managing wildlife harvest under climate change|
|Series title||Journal of Wildlife Management|
|Contributing office(s)||Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Eastern Ecological Science Center|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|