Chapter 55

Conservation Biology and Restoration Ecology
PowerPoint Lectures for Biology, Seventh Edition
Neil Campbell and Jane Reece

Lectures by Chris Romero
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• Overview: The Biodiversity Crisis
– Conservation biology integrates the following fields to conserve biological diversity at all levels – Ecology – Evolutionary biology – Physiology – Molecular biology – Genetics – Behavioral ecology
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• Restoration ecology applies ecological principles
– In an effort to return degraded ecosystems to conditions as similar as possible to their natural state

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• Tropical forests
– Contain some of the greatest concentrations of species – Are being destroyed at an alarming rate

Figure 55.1
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• Throughout the biosphere, human activities
– Are altering ecosystem processes on which we and other species depend

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• Concept 55.1: Human activities threaten Earth’s biodiversity • Rates of species extinction
– Are difficult to determine under natural conditions

• The current rate of species extinction is high
– And is largely a result of ecosystem degradation by humans

• Humans are threatening Earth’s biodiversity
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The Three Levels of Biodiversity
• Biodiversity has three main components – Genetic diversity – Species diversity – Ecosystem diversity
Genetic diversity in a vole population

Species diversity in a coastal redwood ecosystem

Figure 55.2
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Community and ecosystem diversity across the landscape of an entire region

Genetic Diversity • Genetic diversity comprises
– The genetic variation within a population – The genetic variation between populations

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Species Diversity • Species diversity
– Is the variety of species in an ecosystem or throughout the biosphere

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• An endangered species
– Is one that is in danger of becoming extinct throughout its range

• Threatened species
– Are those that are considered likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future

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• Conservation biologists are concerned about species loss
– Because of a number of alarming statistics regarding extinction and biodiversity

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• Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson has identified the Hundred Heartbeat Club
– Species that number fewer than 100 individuals and are only that many heartbeats from extinction
(a) Philippine eagle (b) Chinese river dolphin

Figure 55.3a–c
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(c) Javan rhinoceros

Ecosystem Diversity • Ecosystem diversity
– Identifies the variety of ecosystems in the biosphere – Is being affected by human activity

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Biodiversity and Human Welfare • Human biophilia
– Allows us to recognize the value of biodiversity for its own sake

• Species diversity
– Brings humans many practical benefits

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Benefits of Species and Genetic Diversity • Many pharmaceuticals
– Contain substances originally derived from plants

Figure 55.4
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• The loss of species
– Also means the loss of genes and genetic diversity

• The enormous genetic diversity of organisms on Earth
– Has the potential for great human benefit

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Ecosystem Services • Ecosystem services encompass all the processes
– Through which natural ecosystems and the species they contain help sustain human life on Earth

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• Ecosystem services include
– Purification of air and water – Detoxification and decomposition of wastes – Cycling of nutrients – Moderation of weather extremes – And many others

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Four Major Threats to Biodiversity • Most species loss can be traced to four major threats
– Habitat destruction – Introduced species – Overexploitation – Disruption of “interaction networks”

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Habitat Destruction • Human alteration of habitat
– Is the single greatest threat to biodiversity throughout the biosphere

• Massive destruction of habitat
– Has been brought about by many types of human activity

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• Many natural landscapes have been broken up
– Fragmenting habitat into small patches

Figure 55.5
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• In almost all cases
– Habitat fragmentation and destruction leads to loss of biodiversity

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Introduced Species • Introduced species
– Are those that humans move from the species’ native locations to new geographic regions

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• Introduced species that gain a foothold in a new habitat
– Usually disrupt their adopted community
(a) Brown tree snake, introduced to Guam in cargo

Figure 55.6a, b

(b) Introduced kudzu thriving in South Carolina

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Overexploitation • Overexploitation refers generally to the human harvesting of wild plants or animals
– At rates exceeding the ability of populations of those species to rebound

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• The fishing industry
– Has caused significant reduction in populations of certain game fish

Figure 55.7
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Disruption of Interaction Networks • The extermination of keystone species by humans
– Can lead to major changes in the structure of communities

Figure 55.8
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• Concept 55.2: Population conservation focuses on population size, genetic diversity, and critical habitat • Biologists focusing on conservation at the population and species levels
– Follow two main approaches

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Small-Population Approach • Conservation biologists who adopt the smallpopulation approach
– Study the processes that can cause very small populations finally to become extinct

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The Extinction Vortex • A small population is prone to positivefeedback loops
– That draw the population down an extinction vortex
Small population Genetic drift

Inbreeding Lower reproduction Higher mortality Reduction in individual fitness and population adaptability Smaller population

Loss of genetic variability

Figure 55.9

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• The key factor driving the extinction vortex
– Is the loss of the genetic variation necessary to enable evolutionary responses to environmental change

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Case Study: The Greater Prairie Chicken and the Extinction Vortex • Populations of the greater prairie chicken
– Were fragmented by agriculture and later found to exhibit decreased fertility

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• As a test of the extinction vortex hypothesis
– Scientists imported genetic variation by transplanting birds from larger populations

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• The declining population rebounded
– Confirming that it had been on its way down an extinction vortex
EXPRIMENT Number of male birds Researchers observed that the population collapse of the greater prairie chicken was mirrored in a reduction in fertility, as measured by the hatching rate of eggs. Comparison of DNA samples from the Jasper County, Illinois, population with DNA from feathers in museum specimens showed that genetic variation had declined in the study population. In 1992, researchers began experimental translocations of prairie chickens from Minnesota, Kansas, and Nebraska in an attempt to increase genetic variation. 200 150

100 50

0 RESULTS After translocation (blue arrow), the viability of eggs rapidly improved, and the population rebounded. 1970 1975 1980 (a) Population dynamics 100 90 Eggs hatched (%) 80 70 60 50 40 30 1970-74 1975-79 1980-84 1985-89 Years (b) Hatching rate 1990 1993-97 1985 1990 Year 1995 2000

CONCLUSION

The researchers concluded that lack of genetic variation had started the Jasper County population of prairie chickens down the extinction vortex.

Figure 55.10
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Minimum Viable Population Size • The minimum viable population (MVP)
– Is the minimum population size at which a species is able to sustain its numbers and survive

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• A population viability analysis (PVA)
– Predicts a population’s chances for survival over a particular time – Factors in the MVP of a population

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Effective Population Size • A meaningful estimate of MVP
– Requires a researcher to determine the effective population size, which is based on the breeding size of a population

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Case Study: Analysis of Grizzly Bear Populations • One of the first population viability analyses
– Was conducted as part of a long-term study of grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park

Figure 55.11
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• This study has shown that the grizzly bear population
– Has grown substantially in the past 20 years
150 Females with cubs Cubs Number of individuals 100

50

0 1973 Figure 55.12

1982

1991

2000

Year

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Declining-Population Approach • The declining-population approach
– Focuses on threatened and endangered populations that show a downward trend, regardless of population size – Emphasizes the environmental factors that caused a population to decline in the first place

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Steps for Analysis and Intervention • The declining-population approach
– Requires that population declines be evaluated on a case-by-case basis – Involves a step-by-step proactive conservation strategy

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Case Study: Decline of the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker • Red-cockaded woodpeckers
– Require specific habitat factors for survival – Had been forced into decline by habitat destruction
(a) A red-cockaded woodpecker perches at the entrance to its nest site in a longleaf pine.

Figure 55.13a–c

(b) Forest that can sustain red-cockaded woodpeckers has low undergrowth.

(c) Forest that cannot sustain red-cockaded woodpeckers has high, dense undergrowth that impacts the woodpeckers’ access to feeding grounds.

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• In a study where breeding cavities were constructed
– New breeding groups formed only in these sites

• On the basis of this experiment
– A combination of habitat maintenance and excavation of new breeding cavities has enabled a once-endangered species to rebound

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Weighing Conflicting Demands • Conserving species often requires resolving conflicts
– Between the habitat needs of endangered species and human demands

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• Concept 55.3: Landscape and regional conservation aim to sustain entire biotas • In recent years, conservation biology
– Has attempted to sustain the biodiversity of entire communities, ecosystems, and landscapes

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• One goal of landscape ecology, of which ecosystem management is part
– Is to understand past, present, and future patterns of landscape use and to make biodiversity conservation part of land-use planning

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Landscape Structure and Biodiversity • The structure of a landscape
– Can strongly influence biodiversity

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Fragmentation and Edges • The boundaries, or edges, between ecosystems
– Are defining features of landscapes

(a) Natural edges. Grasslands give way to forest ecosystems in Yellowstone National Park.

Figure 55.14a, b

(b) Edges created by human activity. Pronounced edges (roads) surround clear-cuts in this photograph of a heavily logged rain forest in Malaysia.

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• As habitat fragmentation increases
– And edges become more extensive, biodiversity tends to decrease

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• Research on fragmented forests has led to the discovery of two groups of species
– Those that live in forest edge habitats and those that live in the forest interior

Figure 55.15
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Corridors That Connect Habitat Fragments • A movement corridor
– Is a narrow strip of quality habitat connecting otherwise isolated patches

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• In areas of heavy human use
– Artificial corridors are sometimes constructed

Figure 55.16
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• Movement corridors
– Promote dispersal and help sustain populations

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Establishing Protected Areas • Conservation biologists are applying their understanding of ecological dynamics
– In establishing protected areas to slow the loss of biodiversity

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• Much of the focus on establishing protected areas
– Has been on hot spots of biological diversity

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Finding Biodiversity Hot Spots • A biodiversity hot spot is a relatively small area
– With an exceptional concentration of endemic species and a large number of endangered and threatened species
Terrestrial biodiversity hot spots

Equator

Figure 55.17
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• Biodiversity hot spots are obviously good choices for nature reserves
– But identifying them is not always easy

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Philosophy of Nature Reserves • Nature reserves are biodiversity islands
– In a sea of habitat degraded to varying degrees by human activity

• One argument for extensive reserves
– Is that large, far-ranging animals with lowdensity populations require extensive habitats

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• In some cases
– The size of reserves is smaller than the actual area needed to sustain a population
0 50 Kilometers 43° Gallatin R.
Yell o wst on

100

Madison R.

eR

.

42°

Montana Wyoming Yellowstone National Park Shoshone R.

Montana Idaho 41°

ak Sn e R.

Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

40°

Biotic boundary for short-term survival; MVP is 50 individuals. Biotic boundary for long-term survival; MVP is 500 individuals.

Figure 55.18
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Idaho

Zoned Reserves • The zoned reserve model recognizes that conservation efforts
– Often involve working in landscapes that are largely human dominated

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• Zoned reserves
– Are often established as “conservation areas”
Nicaragua Costa Rica CARIBBEAN SEA

PACIFIC OCEAN (a) Boundaries of the zoned reserves are indicated by black outlines.

Figure 55.19a, b

(b) Local schoolchildren marvel at the diversity of life in one of Costa Rica’s reserves.

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Panam

National park land Buffer zone

a

• Some zoned reserves in the Fiji islands are closed to fishing
– Which actually helps to improve fishing success in nearby areas

Figure 55.20
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• Concept 55.4: Restoration ecology attempts to restore degraded ecosystems to a more natural state • The larger the area disturbed
– The longer the time that is required for recovery

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• Whether a disturbance is natural or caused by humans
– Seems to make little difference in this sizetime relationship
104 Natural disasters Human-caused disasters Recovery time (years) (log scale) 1,000 Natural OR humancaused disasters Industrial pollution 100 Meteor strike Groundwater exploitation

Salination Urbanization Modern Volcanic Acid agriculture Flood eruption rain Slash & burn Oil spill Forest Nuclear Tsunami fire bomb

10 Tree fall Lightning strike 1 10−3 10−2 10−1

Landslide

1

10

100

1,000

104

Figure 55.21
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Spatial scale (km2) (log scale)

• One of the basic assumptions of restoration ecology
– Is that most environmental damage is reversible

• Two key strategies in restoration ecology
– Are bioremediation and augmentation of ecosystem processes

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Bioremediation • Bioremediation
– Is the use of living organisms to detoxify ecosystems

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Biological Augmentation • Biological augmentation
– Uses organisms to add essential materials to a degraded ecosystem

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Exploring Restoration • The newness and complexity of restoration ecology
– Require scientists to consider alternative solutions and adjust approaches based on experience

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• Exploring restoration worldwide

Equator

Figure 55.22

Truckee River, Nevada.

Kissimmee River, Florida.

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Tropical dry forest, Costa Rica.

Succulent Karoo, South Africa.

Figure 55.22

Rhine River, Europe.

Coastal Japan.

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• Concept 55.5: Sustainable development seeks to improve the human condition while conserving biodiversity • Facing increasing loss and fragmentation of habitats
– How can we best manage Earth’s resources?

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Sustainable Biosphere Initiative • The goal of this initiative is to define and acquire the basic ecological information necessary
– For the intelligent and responsible development, management, and conservation of Earth’s resources

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Case Study: Sustainable Development in Costa Rica • Costa Rica’s success in conserving tropical biodiversity
– Has involved partnerships between the government, other organizations, and private citizens

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• Human living conditions in Costa Rica
– Have improved along with ecological conservation
200 Infant mortality (per 1,000 live births) Life expectancy Infant mortality 80 70 Life expectancy (years)

150

60 100 50 50

40

0 1900 1950 Year 2000

30

Figure 55.23
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Biophilia and the Future of the Biosphere • Our modern lives
– Are very different from those of early humans who hunted and gathered and painted on cave walls

Figure 55.24a

(a) Detail of animals in a Paleolithic mural, Lascaux, France

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• But our behavior
– Reflects remnants of our ancestral attachment to nature and the diversity of life, the concept of biophilia

Figure 55.24b

(b) Biologist Carlos Rivera Gonzales examining a tiny tree frog in Peru

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• Our innate sense of connection to nature
– May eventually motivate a realignment of our environmental priorities

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