Reserve design

Reserve design is the process of planning and creating a nature reserve in a way that effectively accomplishes the goal of the reserve.

Reserve establishment has a variety of goals, and planners must consider many factors for a reserve to be successful. These include habitat preference, migration, climate change, and public support. To accommodate these factors and fulfill the reserve's goal requires that planners create and implement a specific design.

Purpose of reserves

All nature reserves have a primary goal of protecting biodiversity from harmful activities and processes, both natural and anthropogenic. To achieve this, reserves must extensively sample biodiversity at all taxonomic levels and enhance and ensure long-term survival of the organisms.[1] As it is described in the guides to nature reserve establishment from Scottish and English governments, a nature reserve will likely contribute to enhancing local sustainability and contribute to meeting biodiversity targets. An additional goal is also included: providing controlled opportunities for study of organisms and their surroundings, where study can mean actual scientific research or use of the reserve for education, engagement and recreation of public.[2][3] Various secondary benefits, such as economic contributions from enhanced tourism and opportunities for specialist training, are also mentioned.

Social and ecological factors

Successful reserves incorporate important ecological and social factors into their design. Such factors include the natural range of predators. When a reserve is too small, carnivores have increased contact with humans, resulting in higher mortality rates for the carnivore.[4][5][6][7]

Also certain species are area sensitive. A study on song birds in Japan showed that certain birds only settle in habitats much larger than the area they actually occupy. Knowing species geographic range and preference is essential to determining the size of the reserve needed.

Social factors such as the attitudes of local people should also be taken into account. If a reserve is put up in an area that people depend on for their livelihood the reserve often fails. For example, in Bolivia, the Amboró National Park was expanded in 1991 from 1,800 to 6,370 km². While this was celebrated by conservationists, local people who would be displaced by the expansion were angered. They continued to hunt and log within the park and eventually the park size had to be reduced [8]. Because local people were not considered in the design of the reserve, conservation efforts failed. Many conservationists advocate local people must be included in conservation efforts, this is known as an Integrated Conservation and Development Project.

Design solutions

Reserve shape

As commonly recommended, an ideal nature reserve should obtain a shape of a perfect circle to reduce dispersal distances[8] avoid detrimental edge effects. However, this is practically very hard to achieve, due to land use for agriculture, human settlements and natural resource extraction. Buffer zones are often suggested as a way of providing protection from human threat, promoting succession and reforestation, and reducing edge effects.[9] English government guide to nature reserves mentions buffer zones as being useful, but not essential for biodiversity protection.[3]

Contrasting evidence suggests that shape plays little to no part in the effectiveness of the reserve. A study in 1985 explored the effects of shape and size on islands, and determined that area, rather than shape was the major factor.[10]

Reserve size

A complicated debate among conservation biologists (also known as the SLOSS debate) focused on whether it is better to create one large or several small reserves. The species area relationship states that the number of species in a habitat is directly proportional to its size. So theoretically if several small reserves have a greater total area than a single large reserve, the small reserves will contain a greater total number of species. This, combined with assumptions of island biogeography theory, lead Jared Diamond to state that a single large reserve is the best method of conservation,[8] and it is still commonly recommended. For example, a review by Ovaskainen[11] determined that a single large reserve site is best at maximising long-term survival of the species and deferring extinction in a closed population.

The nested subset theory disagrees with Diamond's conclusion. It states that several small reserves will mostly share the same species, because certain species are better adapted to living in smaller habitats and many other species only exist in larger habitats [12] A study conducted in Illinois had shown that two small forest reserves contained a larger number of bird species than one large forest patch, but the large reserve contained a larger number of migratory birds.[7] Ovaskainen[11] and Fukamachi[13] argued that several small reserve fragments are better at maximising species richness. However, it will most likely only applies to common species, as the rarest, least abundant species are found only in single large sites.[13]

As the debate had mixed evidence supporting both Single Large and Several Small reserves,[14][15] some scientists questioned the practical applicability of island biogeography theory to conservation in general.[9] However, its applicability and its role in stimulating the study of habitat fragmentation is now largely accepted. The scientific findings emerging from habitat fragmentation research are considered to be a key element of conservation biology and applicable to reserve design. Similarly, the suggestion that scientific evidence was lacking to support the hypothesis that subdividing habitat increases extinction rates (fundamentally the problem addressed by the SLOSS debate) was refuted.[16]

Habitat quality and heterogeneity

The science of reserve design has faced some recent controversy regarding species-area relationship, when it was shown that habitat heterogeneity is likely a stronger factor in determining species richness than area. The study decoupled area and habitat complexity to show that small, but heterogeneous habitats have more arthropod species than large, but homogeneous ones.[17]

Habitat diversity and quality have also been shown to influence biodiversity. It was discovered that plant species richness in Norwegian meadows is correlated with habitat diversity.[18] Another study has found that butterfly population persistence was found to correlate with habitat quality, rather than area.[19]

Reserve networks

Protecting species in a confined area sometimes isn’t enough to protect the biodiversity of an entire region. Life within a nature reserve does not function as an isolated unit, separate from its surroundings. Many animals engage in migration and are not guaranteed to stay within fixed reserve boundaries. So, to protect biodiversity over wide geographic ranges, reserve systems are established. Reserve systems are a series of strategically placed reserves designed to connect habitats. This allows animals to travel between protected areas through wildlife corridors. A wildlife corridor is a protected passageway where it is known that fauna migrate. The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative is an excellent example of this type of conservation effort. Studies showed that reserve networks are extremely valuable for conservation,[20] and can help increase migration between patches up to 50%.[21]

Reserve location

To be efficient and cost-effective, yet still effectively protect a wide range of organisms, nature reserves must be established in species rich geographic locations.[1][9][22] This potentially includes biodiversity hotspots, ancient woodland, and unique habitats such as wetlands, bogs, ecosites or endemic islands (e.g. Madagascar).

Biodiversity hotspots

According to Conservation International, the term biodiversity hotspot refers to "the richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on Earth... To qualify as a hotspot, a region must meet two strict criteria: it must contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants (> 0.5 percent of the world’s total) as endemics, and it has to have lost at least 70 percent of its original habitat."[1] These hotspots are rapidly disappearing due to human activities, but they still have a chance of being saved if conservation measures are enacted. Biodiversity hotspots could be considered the most important places to put reserves.

Future habitat

Future habitat of the species we wish to protect is of utmost importance when designing reserves. There are many questions to think about when determining future species ranges: How will the climate shift in the future? Where will species move? What species will climate change benefit? What are potential barriers to these needed species range shifts? Reserves must be designed with future habitat in mind, perhaps incorporating both the current and future ranges of the species’ of concern.

The fundamental question in determining future species ranges is how the Earth is changing, both in the present and how it will change in the future. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency the average surface temperature of the Earth has raised 1.2 – 1.4 °F since 1900. 1 °F of this warming has occurred since the mid-1970s, and at present, the Earth’s surface is heating up about 0.32 °F per decade.[2] Predicted increases in global temperature range from 1.4 °C to 5.8 °C by the year 2100.[23] Large changes in precipitation are also predicted to occur by both the A1Fl scenario [3] and the B1 scenario [4] [24] It is predicted that there will also be large changes in the atmosphere and in the sea level.[5].

This rapid, dramatic climate change has affected and will continue to affect species ranges. A study by Camille Parmesan and Gary Yohe published in 2003[25] illustrates this point well. 434 of the species analysed were characterized as having changed their ranges. 80% of observed range changes were made polewards or upward, as predicted by global climate change, at an average of 6.1 km per decade. A more recent study in 2011[26] confirmed this trend and showed that the rate of range shift is at least two times higher than estimated in previous studies. With the polewards movement, species abandon their previous habitat areas in search of cooler environments. An example of this was species of sea anemones thriving in Monterey Bay that had previously had a more southerly distribution.[27] Species of lichens,[28] and butterflies[29][30] in Europe also followed the patterns of species range shifts predicted by models of future climate change.

These species were shown to be migrating northward and upward, to higher latitudes and sky islands. The data from this study also indicated "the dynamics at the range boundaries are expected to be more influenced by climate than are dynamics within the interior of a species range…[where] response to global warming predicts that southerly species should outperform northerly species at the same site."

These findings are of particular interest when considering reserve design. At the edges of a reserve, presuming that the reserve is also the species range if the species is highly threatened, climate change will be far more of a factor. Northern borders and those at higher elevations will become future battlegrounds for the conservation of the species in question, as they migrate northward and upward. The borders of today may not include the habitat of tomorrow, thus defeating the purpose of preservation by instead making the species range smaller and smaller if there are barriers to migration at the Northern and higher elevation boundaries of the reserve. Reserves could be designed to keep Northern migration a possibility, with boundaries farther to the North than might be considered practical looking at the today’s species ranges and abundances. Keeping open corridors between reserves connecting them to reserves to the North and the South is another possibility.

See also

References

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  3. ^ a b Natural England, n.d. Local Nature Reserves in England: A Guide to their Selection and Declaration
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  27. ^ Sagarin, R., Barry, J. P., Gilman, S. E. & Baxter, C. H. Climate-related change in an intertidal community over short and long time scales. Ecol. Monogr. 69, 465-490 (1999)
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Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project

The Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP), originally called the Minimum Critical Size of Ecosystems Project is a large-scale ecological experiment looking at the effects of habitat fragmentation on tropical rainforest; it is one of the most expensive biology experiments ever run. The experiment, which was established in 1979 is located near Manaus, in the Brazilian Amazon. The project is jointly managed by the Smithsonian Institution and the Brazilian Institute for Research in the Amazon (INPA).

The project was initiated in 1979 by Thomas Lovejoy to investigate the SLOSS debate. Initially named the Minimum Critical Size of Ecosystems Project, the project created forest fragments of sizes 1 hectare (2 acres), 10 hectares (25 acres), and 100 hectares (247 acres). Data were collected prior to the creation of the fragments and studies of the effects of fragmentation now exceed 25 years.

As of October 2010 562 publications and 143 graduate dissertations and theses had emerged from the project.

Conservation biology

Conservation biology is the management of nature and of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction and the erosion of biotic interactions. It is an interdisciplinary subject drawing on natural and social sciences, and the practice of natural resource management.The conservation ethic is based on the findings of conservation biology.

Edith's checkerspot

Edith's checkerspot (Euphydryas editha) is a species of butterfly in the family Nymphalidae. It is a resident species of western North America and among the subspecies, entomologists have long been intrigued by their many phenotypic variations in coloration, wing length, and overall body size. Most populations are monophagous and rely on plants including Plantago erecta and Orthocarpus densiflorus as its host species in developing from eggs through to larvae, pupae, and mature butterflies. Males exhibit polygyny whereas females rarely mate more than once. Males devote most of their attention to mate acquisition, and such mate locating strategies such as hilltopping behavior has developed. Climate change and habitat destruction has impacted certain subspecies. Two subspecies in particular, Euphydryas editha quino and Euphydryas editha bayensis, are currently under protection via the Endangered Species Act.

Great Western Woodlands

The Great Western Woodlands is the largest and healthiest temperate (Mediterranean climate) woodland remaining on Earth. Located in the southwest of Australia, the woodlands cover almost 16,000,000 hectares (40,000,000 acres), a region larger in size than England and Wales. The boundary of the Great Western Woodlands runs from the Nullarbor Plain in the east to the Western Australian Wheatbelt in the west; from north of Esperance through to the inland mulga country and deserts that are found north of Kalgoorlie.The boundaries of this region were established by researchers from the Australian National University working with The Wilderness Society and are based on satellite data of the region’s natural ecosystems and vegetation types. The vegetation in this region is botanically diverse, and ranges from mature eucalypt woodlands dominating the landscape, interspersed with large areas of mallee, shrublands and grasslands.The Great Western Woodlands region is part of one of the world’s "global biodiversity hotspots", the South West Western Australia Floristic Province, with new species of flora and fauna still being discovered. Current research shows there is close to 3,500 plant species found in the Great Western Woodlands region; as many as half of these species are endemic to Southwest Australia. The region is also home to at least 49 species of mammals, 14 species of frogs, 138 species of reptiles and 215 species of birds.The extraordinary natural values of the Great Western Woodlands make the area a place of continental and global significance. Beyond this region’s high rates of biodiversity, scientists have also established that the Great Western Woodlands region contains 950 million tonnes of carbon stored in the vegetation and soil.The Great Western Woodlands is vulnerable to a number of threats including fire, feral animals, noxious weeds and fragmentation caused by ad hoc development.

Habitat conservation

Habitat conservation is a management practice that seeks to conserve, protect and restore habitats and prevent species extinction, fragmentation or reduction in range. It is a priority of many groups that cannot be easily characterized in terms of any one ideology.

Iloura Reserve

Iloura Reserve is a heritage-listed public reserve on the site of a former timber yard at 10-20 Weston Street, Balmain East, Inner West Council, Sydney New South Wales, Australia. Following the resumption of the timber yard for public space in the 1960s, the present reserve was designed and laid out by landscape architect Bruce Mackenzie and constructed in two stages: stage one in 1970 and stage two in 1981. It is also known as Peacock Point and Illoura. The reserve is owned by the Inner West Council. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 29 November 2013.

Info-gap decision theory

Info-gap decision theory is a non-probabilistic decision theory that seeks to optimize robustness to failure – or opportuneness for windfall – under severe uncertainty, in particular applying sensitivity analysis of the stability radius type to perturbations in the value of a given estimate of the parameter of interest. It has some connections with Wald's maximin model; some authors distinguish them, others consider them instances of the same principle.

It has been developed since the 1980s by Yakov Ben-Haim, and has found many applications and described as a theory for decision-making under "severe uncertainty". It has been criticized as unsuited for this purpose, and alternatives proposed, including such classical approaches as robust optimization.

Insular biogeography

Insular biogeography or island biogeography is a field within biogeography that examines the factors that affect the species richness and diversification of isolated natural communities. The theory was originally developed to explain the pattern of the species–area relationship occurring in oceanic islands. Under either name it is now used in reference to any ecosystem (present or past) that is isolated due to being surrounded by unlike ecosystems, and has been extended to mountain peaks, seamounts, oases, fragmented forests, and even natural habitats isolated by human land development. The field was started in the 1960s by the ecologists Robert H. MacArthur and E. O. Wilson, who coined the term island biogeography in their inaugural contribution to Princeton's Monograph in Population Biology series, which attempted to predict the number of species that would exist on a newly created island.

Kelp forest

Kelp forests are underwater areas with a high density of kelp, which covers about 25% of the world’s coastlines. They are recognized as one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems on Earth. Smaller areas of anchored kelp are called kelp beds.

Kelp forests occur worldwide throughout temperate and polar coastal oceans. In 2007, kelp forests were also discovered in tropical waters near Ecuador.Physically formed by brown macroalgae, kelp forests provide a unique, three-dimensional habitat for marine organisms and are a source for understanding many ecological processes. Over the last century, they have been the focus of extensive research, particularly in trophic ecology, and continue to provoke important ideas that are relevant beyond this unique ecosystem. For example, kelp forests can influence coastal oceanographic patterns and provide many ecosystem services.However, the influence of humans has often contributed to kelp forest degradation. Of particular concern are the effects of overfishing nearshore ecosystems, which can release herbivores from their normal population regulation and result in the overgrazing of kelp and other algae. This can rapidly result in transitions to barren landscapes where relatively few species persist. The implementation of marine protected areas is one management strategy useful for addressing such issues, since it may limit the impacts of fishing and buffer the ecosystem from additive effects of other environmental stressors.

Marxan

MARXAN is software designed to aid systematic reserve design on conservation planning. With the use of stochastic optimisation routines (Simulated Annealing) it generates spatial reserve systems that achieve particular biodiversity representation goals with reasonable optimality.

Computationally, MARXAN provides solutions to a conservation version of the 0-1 knapsack problem, where the objects of interest are potential reserve sites with given biological attributes. The simulated annealing algorithm attempts to minimise the total cost of the reserve system, while achieving a set of conservation goals (typically that a certain percentage of each geographical/biological feature is represented by the reserve system).

Nature reserve

A nature reserve (also known as natural reserve, bioreserve, natural/nature preserve, or natural/nature conserve) is a protected area of importance for flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research. Nature reserves may be designated by government institutions in some countries, or by private landowners, such as charities and research institutions, regardless of nationality. Nature reserves fall into different IUCN categories depending on the level of protection afforded by local laws. Normally it is more strictly protected than a nature park.

Reconciliation ecology

Reconciliation ecology is the branch of ecology which studies ways to encourage biodiversity in human-dominated ecosystems. Michael Rosenzweig first articulated the concept in his book Win-Win Ecology, based on the theory that there is not enough area for all of earth’s biodiversity to be saved within designated nature preserves. Therefore, humans should increase biodiversity in human-dominated landscapes. By managing for biodiversity in ways that do not decrease human utility of the system, it is a "win-win" situation for both human use and native biodiversity. The science is based in the ecological foundation of human land-use trends and species-area relationships. It has many benefits beyond protection of biodiversity, and there are numerous examples of it around the globe. Aspects of reconciliation ecology can already be found in management legislation, but there are challenges in both public acceptance and ecological success of reconciliation attempts.

Whicher Range

Whicher Range, also known as Whicher Scarp, is a range in the South West region of Western Australia.

The range has an average elevation of 170 metres (558 ft) above sea level.Bounded by the Swan Coastal Plain to the west and the south, the Darling Scarp to the north and the Blackwood Plateau to the east, the range is approximately 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of Busselton. The range has the form of a crescent shaped scarp.

Composed of lateritic Mesozoic sediments the range marks the southern and western edge of the Yilgarn Block.

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