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Proc Biol Sci. 2006 Oct 7;273(1600):2491-9.

The impacts of different management strategies and environmental forcing in ecological communities.

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Integrative Ecology Unit, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, PO Box 65 (Viikinkaari 1), Helsinki, FIN-00014, Finland.


Understanding the effects of population management on the community a target species belongs to is of key importance for successful management. It is known that the removal or extinction of a single species in a community may lead to extinctions of other community members. In our study, we assess the impacts of population management on competitive communities, studying the response of both locally stable and unstable communities of varying size (between four and 10 species) to three different management strategies; harvesting of a target species, harvesting with non-targeted catch, and stocking of the target species. We also studied the consequences of selecting target species with different relative abundances, as well as the effects of varying environmental conditions. We show here how the effects of management in competitive communities extend far beyond the target population. A crucial role is played by the underlying stability properties of the community under management. In general, locally unstable communities are more vulnerable to perturbation through management. Furthermore, the community response is shown to be sensitive to the relative density of the target species. Of considerable interest is the result that even a small (2.5%) increase in the population size of the target species through stocking may lead to extinction of other community members. These results emphasize the importance of considering and understanding multi-species interactions in population management.

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