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Invasion versus isolation: Trade-offs in managing native salmonids with barriers to upstream movement

Fausch, Kurt D.; Rieman, Bruce E.; Dunham, Jason B.; Young, Michael K.; Peterson, Douglas P. 2009. Invasion versus isolation: Trade-offs in managing native salmonids with barriers to upstream movement. Conservation Biology. 23(4): 859-870.

Conservation biologists often face the trade-off that increasing connectivity in fragmented landscapes to reduce extinction risk of native species can foster invasion by non-native species that enter via the corridors created, which can then increase extinction risk. This dilemma is acute for stream fishes, especially native salmonids, because their populations are frequently relegated to fragments of headwater habitat threatened by invasion from downstream by 3 cosmopolitan non-native salmonids. Managers often block these upstream invasions with movement barriers, but isolation of native salmonids in small headwater streams can increase the threat of local extinction. We propose a conceptual framework to address this worldwide problem that focuses on 4 main questions. First, are populations of conservation value present (considering evolutionary legacies, ecological functions, and socioeconomic benefits as distinct values)? Second, are populations vulnerable to invasion and displacement by non-native salmonids? Third, would these populations be threatened with local extinction if isolated with barriers? And, fourth, how should management be prioritized among multiple populations? We also developed a conceptual model of the joint trade-off of invasion and isolation threats that considers the opportunities for managers to make strategic decisions. We illustrated use of this framework in an analysis of the invasion-isolation trade-off for native cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) in 2 contrasting basins in western North America where invasion and isolation are either present and strong or farther away and apparently weak. These cases demonstrate that decisions to install or remove barriers to conserve native salmonids are often complex and depend on conservation values, environmental context (which influences the threat of invasion and isolation), and additional socioeconomic factors. Explicit analysis with tools such as those we propose can help managers make sound decisions in such complex circumstances.

Keywords: biological invasions, corridors, habitat fragmentation, isolation, salmonids, stream fish

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Invasion versus isolation: Trade-offs in managing native salmonids with barriers to upstream movement
Electronic Publish Date: August 31, 2009
Last Update:
August 31, 2009

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