The dangers of ignoring metapopulation structure for the conservation of salmonids


Cooper, Andrew B. , and Marc Mangel
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Because of their tendency to return to natal streams, salmonid populations have often been viewed in ecological isolation, although the notion of an evolutionarily significant unit (ESU) recognizes dispersal on evolutionary time scales. We investigated the consequences of dispersal (straying) on an ecological time scale where straying creates a metapopulation structure for salmonid streams within an ESU. We developed a simple model for salmonid metapopulations, focusing on source and sink populations, and used the model to highlight the dangers of ignoring this structure in conservation efforts. We show that exactly the wrong conservation efforts may occur if metapopulation structure exists but is ignored.