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Abstract

As a signatory of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Kingdom (UK) Government is obliged to conserve and enhance biodiversity. One step towards addressing this goal is to determine the level of biodiversity conservation already achieved within the current array of protected areas. We used national distribution data for ten taxonomic groups, and location information for three reserve networks, to assess the contribution of nature reserves to biodiversity conservation in Great Britain at the 10 km square (=100 km2) resolution. For several taxonomic groups, 10 km squares containing nature reserves had a significantly greater overlap than random networks with both hotspots (areas of high species richness) and complementary areas (sets of sites within which all species are represented). In addition, more than 94% of species from each taxonomic group have been recorded within the 10 km squares of the three reserve networks. These results provide some encouragement in terms of the UK meeting its commitment to conserve biodiversity.