Thursday, June 27, 2013

1306.6285 (F. Molnar Jr et al.)

Restoration Ecology: Two-Sex Dynamics and Cost Minimization    [PDF]

F. Molnar Jr, C. Caragine, T. Caraco, G. Korniss
We model a spatially detailed, two-sex population dynamics, to study the cost of ecological restoration. We assume that cost is proportional to the number of individuals introduced into a large habitat. We treat dispersal as homogeneous diffusion. The local population dynamics depends on sex ratio at birth, and allows mortality rates to differ between sexes. Furthermore, local density dependence induces a strong Allee effect, implying that the initial population must be sufficiently large to avert rapid extinction. We address three different initial spatial distributions for the introduced individuals; for each we minimize the associated cost, constrained by the requirement that the species must be restored throughout the habitat. First, we consider spatially inhomogeneous, unstable stationary solutions of the model's equations as plausible candidates for small restoration cost. Second, we use numerical simulations to find the smallest cluster size, enclosing a spatially homogeneous population density, that minimizes the cost of assured restoration. Finally, by employing simulated annealing, we minimize restoration cost among all possible initial spatial distributions of females and males. For biased sex ratios, or for a significant between-sex difference in mortality, we find that sex-specific spatial distributions minimize the cost. But as long as the sex ratio maximizes the local equilibrium density for given mortality rates, a common homogeneous distribution for both sexes that spans a critical distance yields a similarly low cost.
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