Estimating Extinction Risk for Multiple Populations When Data for Traditional Population Viability Analyses are Unavailable

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Population viability analysis (PVA) bridges the gap between theoretical and applied ecology and is used to make policy decisions on high-profile conservation efforts. However, it’s use is limited to a single or few populations with long-term data.

USGS, university, and USFS researchers and statisticians developed and tested a hierarchical multi-population viability analysis(MPVA) model to assess extinction risk for multiple isolated populations. By sharing information among populations, the MPVA leverages inference power and can include populations with sparse data, using environmental covariates and accounting for imperfect detection and sampling biases. A graphical user interface allows managers to interact with the model, exploring sensitivities and future environmental scenarios. MPVA utility is illustrated for 155 populations of the federally-threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout. Results indicate population growth rates for Lahontan cutthroat are higher in colder streams and non-native trout reduces carrying capacity. MPVA is an important adaptive management tool and with model extensions, it may have wide conservation applicability.



Leasure, D.R., Wenger, S.J., Chelgren, N.D., Neville, H.M., Dauwalter, D.C., Bjork, R., Fesenmyer, K.A., Dunham, J.B., Peacock, M.M., Luce, C.H., Lute, A.C., Isaak, D.J., 2018, Hierarchical multi-population viability analysis: Ecology, p. online,