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Global patterns of protection of elevational gradients in mountain ranges.


ABSTRACT: Protected areas (PAs) that span elevational gradients enhance protection for taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity and facilitate species range shifts under climate change. We quantified the global protection of elevational gradients by analyzing the elevational distributions of 44,155 PAs in 1,010 mountain ranges using the highest resolution digital elevation models available. We show that, on average, mountain ranges in Africa and Asia have the lowest elevational protection, ranges in Europe and South America have intermediate elevational protection, and ranges in North America and Oceania have the highest elevational protection. We use the Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi Target 11 to assess the proportion of elevational gradients meeting the 17% suggested minimum target and examine how different protection categories contribute to elevational protection. When considering only strict PAs [International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categories I-IV, n = 24,706], nearly 40% of ranges do not contain any PAs, roughly half fail to meet the 17% target at any elevation, and ?75% fail to meet the target throughout ?50% of the elevational gradient. Observed elevational protection is well below optimal, and frequently below a null model of elevational protection. Including less stringent PAs (IUCN categories V-VI and nondesignated PAs, n = 19,449) significantly enhances elevational protection for most continents, but several highly biodiverse ranges require new or expanded PAs to increase elevational protection. Ensuring conservation outcomes for PAs with lower IUCN designations as well as strategically placing PAs to better represent and connect elevational gradients will enhance ecological representation and facilitate species range shifts under climate change.

SUBMITTER: Elsen PR 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6003333 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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