Conclusions

This study shows that simulation models are able to support conservation biologists in their understanding of processes that affect population extinction under current and future habitat conditions, and that models can also help to develop conservation measurements. Our example of different population dynamics generated by differences in temperature conditions and food availability (vegetation cover) demonstrates a general problem of obtaining estimates for MVPs for any temperature-dependent species. The MVP is not a pure species-specific value; it also severely depends on habitat conditions, which influence population dynamics. Forecasting species survival based on data of any population without adapting the specific local conditions will greatly impair prognosis and might lead to accidental extinction of the species.

Relict species, however, may react more pronouncedly to changes in habitat conditions caused by anthropogenic land use or climate change than our model species P. albopunctata. While relict species are also often restricted to patchy habitats, their habitats are scarcer than those of the grey bush cricket and they are often more specialized than the cricket. If the habitats of relict species are altered or destroyed due to global change, populations will be much more endangered than those of any other species that has a broader range distribution, shows a higher ecological and possibly genetic plasticity and may find other suitable habitats by dispersing.

Acknowledgements We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers and Dana Berens who provided helpful comments on the manuscript.

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