- Extinction vortex
Extinction vortices are a class of models through which conservation biologists, geneticists and
ecologists can understand the dynamics of and categorize extinctions in the context of their causes. Developed by M. E. Gilpin and M. E. Soulé in their (now) famous 1986paper "Minimum viable populations: Processes of species extinction," there are currently four classes of extinction vortices. The first two (R and D) deal with environmental factors that have an effect on the ecosystemor communitylevel, such as disturbance, pollution, habitat lossetc. Whereas the second two (F and A) deal with genetic factors such as inbreeding depressionand outbreeding depression, genetic driftetc.
Types of vortices
*R Vortex: The R vortex is initiated when there is a disturbance which facilitates a lowering of
populationsize (N) and a corresponding increase in variability (Var(r)). This event can make populations vulnerable to additional disturbances which will lead to further decreases in population size (N) and further increases in variability (Var(r)). A prime example of this would be the disruption of sex ratios in a population away from the species optimum .Fact|date=August 2007
*D Vortex: The D vortex is initiated when population size (N) decreases and variability (Var(r)) increases such that the spatial distribution (D) of the population is increased and the population becomes "patchy" or fragmented. Within these fragments, local extinction rates increase which, through
positive feedback, further increases D.
*F Vortex: The F vortex is initiated by a decrease in population size (N) which leads to a decrease in individual
heterozygosity(an increase in autozygosity) and increases the rate of genetic drift, resulting in increased degrees of inbreeding depression and an increase in population genetic load, which over time will result in extinction.
*A Vortex: The A vortex is a result of an increase in genetic drift and a corresponding decrease in genetic
variancewhich leads to a decrease in "population adaptive potential", and eventual extinction. This vortex can result from biological invasion, resulting in large scale hybridization and outbreeding depression.
Small population size
Gilpin, M. E. and Soulé, M. E., (1986). "Minimum Viable Populations: Processes of Species Extinction." pp. 19-34 in M. E. Soulé, ed. "Conservation Biology: The Science of Scarcity and Diversity." Sinauer, Sunderland, Mass.
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