Incorporating sociocultural adaptive capacity in conservation hotspot assessments


Correspondence: Jason P. Sexton, Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Aim  To highlight the importance of combining the geographies of sociocultural adaptation and biodiversity risk for creating global change conservation strategies.

Location  Global.

Methods  We review global conservation adaptation strategies and the geographies that influence biological risk, as well as sociocultural capacity to set priorities for a conservation response. We then describe relationships among these geographies and discuss criteria for prioritizing areas that will have the greatest potential for effective adaptive action.

Results  Strategic conservation requires integrating biological geographies with physical and cultural geographies to maximize potential success with limited resources.

Main conclusions  Biogeography is important for strategic conservation, but it is not the only geography that matters. There is a physical geography of global change providing a complex backdrop against which biodiversity is responsive. Additionally, there is a human geography that drives the degree of threat through variations in anthropogenic disturbance of natural systems and also drives variation in potential mitigation through sociocultural capacity for conservation action. Conservation biogeography typically considers the physical geography of change and the biogeography of threat; it must expand to consider the sociocultural geography of intervention, negative and positive, if it is to be effective. Consideration of these varying geographies also drives different choices for how to implement conservation strategies.