Island biogeography theory and nature reserve design

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JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact ABSTRACT. The application of island biogeography theory to the design of nature reserves is controversial. This paper discusses the choice between allocating a single large area or two areas half this size for use as reserves, assuming that the aim is to preserve the maximum number of species. The arguments for and against the strategy of establishing a single large reserve are discussed with reference to predictions from the species-area relationship and other factors arising after the reserves are established. The species-area relationship is shown to support either strategy depending upon the proportion of species shared between the proposed half-sized reserves. Data from the distributions of three sets of species are used to illustrate this point. Other factors, such as irreversibility and the effect of natural catastrophes and extinctions after the reserves are set up, may also support either strategy. Hence island biogeography and related ecological theory yields conflicting advice on conservation strategy.

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