Coherence and Conservation

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Science  17 Nov 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5495, pp. 1360-1364
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5495.1360

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A principal aim of current conservation policy is to reduce the impact of habitat fragmentation. Conservation corridors may achieve this goal by facilitating movement among isolated patches, but there is a risk that increased connectivity could synchronize local population fluctuations (causing coherent oscillations) and thereby increase the danger of global extinction. We identify general conditions under which populations can or cannot undergo coherent oscillations, and we relate these conditions to local and global extinction probabilities. We suggest a simple method to explore the potential success of conservation corridors and, more generally, any manipulations of dispersal patterns that aim to protect threatened species or control pests.

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