Quantifying allowable harm in species at risk: application to the Laurentian black redhorse (Moxostoma duquesnei)

Authors

  • Luis A. Vélez-Espino,

    Corresponding author
    1. Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 867 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, ON, Canada L7R 4A6
    • Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 867 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, ON, Canada L7R 4A6
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  • Marten A. Koops

    1. Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 867 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, ON, Canada L7R 4A6
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Abstract

  • 1.When a species is identified for conservation, often the only way to effect recovery is to reduce the harm imposed by stressors threatening the survival of the species. Ideally all threats would be removed; however, this is often not feasible or practical. Within this context, a demographic approach is presented to assess how much human-induced harm could be allowed without impairing the persistence of the species. Harm is defined as a negative perturbation that can target one or more vital rates and life stages simultaneously.
  • 2.Allowable harm, defined as a level of harm that will not jeopardize survival or recovery, will be a function of the vital rates affected by human actions, the sensitivity of population growth to changes in these vital rates (their elasticities), the population growth rate prevailing before harm occurs, and the set of demographic parameters considered safe for long-term persistence. This life-history based approach requires minimal data, can link demography with habitat-explicit information, is flexible enough to encompass complex life histories, and follows a precautionary approach.
  • 3.Quantification of allowable harm could be applied to any species at risk. This approach is introduced by applying it to a Canadian population of a freshwater fish, the black redhorse (Moxostoma duquesnei), demonstrating that in the absence of habitat constraints population dynamics of this species are most sensitive to the survival of young adults, but population fitness is particularly sensitive to the loss of habitat used by young-of-the-year fish under current levels of habitat supply.

Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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