Assessment of Extinction Risk in Dynamic Landscapes

EPA Grant Number: R829090
Title: Assessment of Extinction Risk in Dynamic Landscapes
Investigators: With, Kimberly A.
Institution: Kansas State University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: October 29, 2001 through October 28, 2003
Project Amount: $219,415
RFA: Wildlife Risk Assessment (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Ecosystems , Biology/Life Sciences


Landscapes are being transformed faster than ever before in human history, which requires that extinction risk be assessed in a dynamic landscape context. The primary goal of the proposed research is to develop general insights into how multiple stressors related to habitat loss, fragmentation, and invasive species affect extinction risk for species in landscapes subjected to chronic disturbance. The specific objectives of this project are to: 1) assess extinction risk for different species types in dynamic landscapes; 2) identify extinction thresholds for species in dynamic landscapes; 3) determine the impact of disturbance regime on extinction risk; 4) develop screening criteria to provide a general assessment of extinction risk for species in dynamic landscapes; and 5) identify scenarios under which adaptive responses to landscape change are likely to significantly influence extinction risk.


A spatially structured demographic model will be linked with dynamic landscape models, in which landscape change is continuous throughout the simulation. Simulation experiments will permit the systematic analysis of how changes in attributes of the disturbance regime interact with species' life-history traits to affect extinction risk in dynamic landscapes. This modeling approach is unique because it explicitly incorporates the effect of dynamic landscape structure on demographic rates (e.g., decreased reproductive success in habitat fragments as a result of increased predation, brood parasitism or competition with invasive species). Demographic models used to assess extinction risk typically treat vital rates as fixed parameters, but if demography is truly dependent upon landscape structure, then ignoring the interaction between landscape structure and demography could produce biased assessments of extinction risk.

Expected Results:

This research will contribute to a general understanding of how landscape dynamics affect species extinction risk. This analysis will identify critical levels of disturbance, and the specific components of the disturbance regime, that drive sensitive species to extinction on landscapes. Of particular interest will be the occurrence of extinction thresholds, where small changes in landscape structure can have unexpected consequences for population persistence. The life-history traits that predispose species to be sensitive to particular forms of disturbance architecture will be identified by this approach. The combination of landscape and life-history traits will provide simple criteria that can be used by resource managers in a screening-level assessment of extinction risk. The analysis of extinction risk in dynamic landscapes will also permit an assessment of whether habitat restoration or other landscape management can reduce extinction risks or reverse population decline, and the magnitude of landscape change that might be required.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 13 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 3 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

ecological effects, animal, population, terrestrial, ecology, modeling., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, wildlife, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Environmental Monitoring, Habitat, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, ecological exposure, habitat dynamics, landscapes, extinction risk, dynamic landscapes, assessment models, adverse impacts, stressors, environmental stressor, extinction risk in dynamic landscapes, habitat disturbance, habitat loss, invasive species, assessment methods

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2002 Progress Report
  • Final Report