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The Promise and Limitations of Spatial Models in Conservation Biology

Uno Wennergren, Mary Ruckelshaus and Peter Kareiva
Oikos
Vol. 74, No. 3 (Dec., 1995), pp. 349-356
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3545979
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3545979
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Promise and Limitations of Spatial Models in Conservation Biology
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Abstract

We review the application of spatially explicit models to conservation biology, and discuss several problems regarding the use of these models. First, it is unclear whether increasing the complexity of spatial models to include age structure enhances our ability to predict population growth in temporally varying environments. Second, if simulations of individual behavior are used to identify options for landscape management, predictions about the fate of dispersing organisms are likely to be hugely in error unless dispersal attributes are known to a far greater degree of accuracy than is reasonable to expect. Third, the compelling metaphor of extinction debts resulting from habitat destruction in competitive communities stands firm as a cautionary tale even when the metapopulation models include multiple trophic levels - but the question remains of how widespread and tight are the tradeoffs between dispersal capacity and competitive superiority. Given the shakiness of spatial models as a foundation for specific conservation recommendations, we conclude they may be more useful as a tool for exploring the design of spatially-structured monitoring schemes, so that management mistakes might be detected before they become irreversible.

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