Conservation of species interactions to achieve self-sustaining ecosystems

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A desirable goal of nature management is to re-establish self-sustaining ecosystems that ensure the persistence of natural habitats and species without requiring active management. Such self-sustainability relies on functional species interactions; yet, species interactions are often overlooked in the conservation literature, and when designing species-specific management efforts. Some interactions may not be restored under general management (e.g. land protection), and may require additional specific management interventions. Interventions targeting these specific interactions fall in a gap between general and species-specific management, effectively bridging community- and population-level approaches to conservation management. We propose that managers should explicitly identify cases where active management of specific interaction partners is required to achieve population self-sustainability. In addition, they should ensure that general management interventions do not inadvertently conflict with naturally occurring interactions, potentially thwarting conservation targets. Interaction functionality may be restored by relying on native species and by identifying the spatial context in which interactions are most likely to re-establish, considering distributional range overlap of interaction partners, local variation in individual encounter rate or even spatial variation in the expected success rate (efficiency) of the focal interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jul 2020

    Research areas

  • communities, conservation, function, management, restoration, species interactions, SEED DISPERSAL, SANTA-ROSALIA, RESTORATION, POLLINATOR, IMPACTS, CLIMATE, EXTINCTION, MANAGEMENT, MAURITIUS, ECOLOGY

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