Object structure

Porównawcza ocena programów analizy żywotności populacji (PVA) w rankingu scenariuszy przekształceń krajobrazu = A comparative assessment of PVA software packages applied to rank the landscape management scenarios


Przegląd Geograficzny T. 93 z. 3 (2021)


Franz, Kamila W. : Autor ORCID ; Romanowski, Jerzy : Autor ORCID ; Johst, Karin : Autor ORCID ; Grimm, Volker : Autor ORCID


Franz, Kamila W. : Uniwersytet Kardynała Wyszyńskiego Instytut Nauk Biologicznych ; Franz, Kamila W. : Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ Department of Ecological Modelling ; Romanowski, Jerzy : Uniwersytet Kardynała Wyszyńskiego Instytut Nauk Biologicznych ; Johst, Karin : Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ Department of Ecological Modelling ; Grimm, Volker : Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ Department of Ecological Modelling ; Grimm, Volker : University of Potsdam Institute for Biochemistry and Biology



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24 cm

Subject and Keywords:

population viability analysis ; Vistula valley ; landscape management scenarios ; metapopulation models ; habitat models ; natterjack toad


Because of the scale and speed of species extinctions conservationists require methods that facilitate decision making. Therefore, a wide range of habitat and population viability analysis (PVA) software has been developed. Given the diversity of available programs it is currently challenging to decide which program is the most appropriate for a particular problem and what has to be considered when interpreting and comparing results from different approaches. Previous comparisons of PVA software addressed more generic questions such as data requirements, assumptions and predictive accuracy. In contract, we focus on a more applied problem that is still unresolved: how do simple habitat models and PVA software packages affect the ranking of alternative management scenarios? We addressed this problem by comparing different packages (LARCH, META-X, VORTEX and RAMAS GIS). As a test case, we studied the impact of alternative landscape development scenarios (river regulation, grassland restoration, reforestation and renaturalisation) for the Vistula valley, Poland, on the natterjack toad (Bufo calamita). In this context we also aimed to assess whether the use of at least two different PVA packages can enable users to better understand the differences in model predictions, which would imply a greater awareness and critical use of the packages. Our model selection represents different approaches to population viability analysis, including habitat, local population and stochastic patch occupancy models. The models can be evaluated in regard to the complexity of parameters and to the way the landscape is handled. We used RAMAS GIS to create a habitat model (RAMASh) and a detailed spatially explicit stochastic metapopulation model (RAMASp) which combined served as a complete “virtual” dataset for parameterisation of other programs. As an example of a stochastic patch occupancy model, we selected the META-X software. For a more independent comparison we added VORTEX – another package that includes explicit population dynamics, similar to RAMAS. Additionally, we included the habitat model LARCH because this type of model is often used by policy makers. We compared the metapopulation structure produced by RAMASh and LARCH. Scenario ranking according to the predicted carrying capacity in both programs was exactly the same, because the quantitative results for each scenario were almost identical in both programs. However, the metapopulation structure showed big differences between the programs, especially in the number of small populations. The analyses of results of different PVA programs (RAMASp, VORTEX and META-X) showed that absolute values of viability measures partly differed among these programs. Slight differences in population growth rate in RAMASp and VORTEX were amplified by stochasticity and resulted in visibly lower values of final abundance in VORTEX than in RAMASp. Also the absolute values of intrinsic mean time to extinction showed some discrepancies in VORTEX and META-X. These results are in agreement with findings of previous PVA comparisons, which emphasizes that absolute values of viability measures produced by any single model should be treated with caution. Nevertheless, despite these differences the rankings of the scenarios were the same in all three programs. However the order of the scenarios was different than in habitat models. In addition, these rankings were robust to the choice of viability measure. Taken together, these results emphasize that scenario ranking delivered by PVA software is robust and thus very useful for conservation management. Furthermore, we recommend using at least two PVA software packages in parallel, as this forces user to scrutinize the simplifying assumptions of the underlying models and of the viability metrics used.


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Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization of the Polish Academy of Sciences

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Programme Innovative Economy, 2010-2014, Priority Axis 2. R&D infrastructure ; European Union. European Regional Development Fund





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