Surrogacy and persistence in reserve selection: landscape prioritization for multiple taxa in Britain
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- 1A principal goal of protected-area networks is to maintain viable populations of as many species as possible, particularly those that are vulnerable to environmental change outside reserves. Ideally, one wants to be able to protect all biodiversity when selecting priority areas for conservation.
- 2Using the area-prioritization algorithm ZONATION, we identified the locations where UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species of mammals, birds, herptiles, butterflies and plants occur in concentrated populations with high connectivity. Both these features are likely to be correlated with population persistence. The analyses were successful in maintaining a high proportion of the connectivity of narrow-range species, and large total amounts of the connectivity of wider-range species over 10% of the land surface of Great Britain.
- 3Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP – high priority) species of one taxonomic group were not particularly good surrogates (indicators) for BAP species of other taxonomic groups. Hence, maintaining population concentrations of one taxonomic group did not guarantee doing likewise for other taxa.
- 4Species with narrow geographic ranges were most effective at predicting conservation success for other species, probably because they represent the range of environmental conditions required by other species.
- 5Synthesis and applications. This study identifies landscape-scale priority areas for conservation of priority species from several taxonomic groups, using the Zonation software. ‘Indicator groups’ were only partially successful as predictors of priority areas for other taxonomic groups, and therefore, the identification of priority areas for biodiversity conservation should include information from all taxonomic groups available. Larger areas should be protected to account for species not included in the analyses. Conservation solutions based on data for many different species, and particularly those species with narrowly defined ranges, appear to be most effective at protecting other rare taxa.