Ecological distance-based spatial capture–recapture models (SCR) are a promising approach for simultaneously estimating animal density and connectivity, both of which affect spatial population processes and ultimately species persistence. We explored how SCR models can be integrated into reserve-design frameworks that explicitly acknowledge both the spatial distribution of individuals and their space use resulting from landscape structure. We formulated the design of wildlife reserves as a budget-constrained optimization problem and conducted a simulation to explore 3 different SCR-informed optimization objectives that prioritized different conservation goals by maximizing the number of protected individuals, reserve connectivity, and density-weighted connectivity. We also studied the effect on our 3 objectives of enforcing that the space-use requirements of individuals be met by the reserve for individuals to be considered conserved (referred to as home-range constraints). Maximizing local population density resulted in fragmented reserves that would likely not aid long-term population persistence, and maximizing the connectivity objective yielded reserves that protected the fewest individuals. However, maximizing density-weighted connectivity or preemptively imposing home-range constraints on reserve design yielded reserves of largely spatially compact sets of parcels covering high-density areas in the landscape with high functional connectivity between them. Our results quantify the extent to which reserve design is constrained by individual home-range requirements and highlight that accounting for individual space use in the objective and constraints can help in the design of reserves that balance abundance and connectivity in a biologically relevant manner.
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Reserve design to optimize functional connectivity and animal density|
|Series title||Conservation Biology|
|Publisher||Society for Conservation Biology|
|Contributing office(s)||Coop Res Unit Leetown|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|