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Fire management, managed relocation, and land conservation options for long-lived obligate seeding plants under global changes in climate, urbanization, and fire regime

  • Author(s): Bonebrake, TC
  • Syphard, AD
  • Franklin, J
  • Anderson, KE
  • Akçakaya, HR
  • Mizerek, T
  • Winchell, C
  • Regan, HM
  • et al.
Abstract

Most species face multiple anthropogenic disruptions. Few studies have quantified the cumulative influence of multiple threats on species of conservation concern, and far fewer have quantified the potential relative value of multiple conservation interventions in light of these threats. We linked spatial distribution and population viability models to explore conservation interventions under projected climate change, urbanization, and changes in fire regime on a long-lived obligate seeding plant species sensitive to high fire frequencies, a dominant plant functional type in many fire-prone ecosystems, including the biodiversity hotspots of Mediterranean-type ecosystems. First, we investigated the relative risk of population decline for plant populations in landscapes with and without land protection under an existing habitat conservation plan. Second, we modeled the effectiveness of relocating both seedlings and seeds from a large patch with predicted declines in habitat area to 2 unoccupied recipient patches with increasing habitat area under 2 projected climate change scenarios. Finally, we modeled 8 fire return intervals (FRIs) approximating the outcomes of different management strategies that effectively control fire frequency. Invariably, long-lived obligate seeding populations remained viable only when FRIs were maintained at or above a minimum level. Land conservation and seedling relocation efforts lessened the impact of climate change and land-use change on obligate seeding populations to differing degrees depending on the climate change scenario, but neither of these efforts was as generally effective as frequent translocation of seeds. While none of the modeled strategies fully compensated for the effects of land-use and climate change, an integrative approach managing multiple threats may diminish population declines for species in complex landscapes. Conservation plans designed to mitigate the impacts of a single threat are likely to fail if additional threats are ignored. © 2014 Society for Conservation Biology.

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