Identifying cloud forest conservation areas in Mexico from the potential distribution of 19 representative species.
ABSTRACT: Cloud forest is a sensitive and vulnerable ecosystem that is threatened by human activities as well as climate change. Previous studies have shown how transitional ecosystems such as cloud forests will be the most negatively impacted by the global increase in temperature. Therefore, the niche modeling framework was used in this study to geographically identify the areas with the climatic potential to host the largest number of key tree species in this ecosystem and to propose them as priority conservation areas. A total of 19 species were modeled using the MaxEnt algorithm; binary maps were generated for each species and combined to produce one potential suitability map and identify climatic priority areas. Thus, 7% of the national area of Mexico shows suitability for the cloud forest ecosystem, although it is currently distributed in less than 1% of the country. Finally, potential suitability areas were compared with natural protected areas, current land use and priority conservation areas. We found that of the current suitable area, only 5% coincides with some federal or state protection regime. Natural protected areas have proven to be a mechanism for forest conservation, so we must consider increasing the number and area of those protected areas that favor the conservation of these key cloud forest species.
Project description:The threatened thin-spined porcupine (Chaetomys subspinosus), a forest-specialist endemic to the Brazilian Atlantic forest, was rarely detected in the wild during the 20th century. Previous geographic distribution assessments were carried out nearly three decades ago and were based on interview data. We performed extensive field surveys (based on active search and interviews), a literature review, and species distribution modeling to predict and validate a more reliable picture of its geographic distribution and environmental suitability gradient. We identified the main predictors of species' incidence, its conservation status, and pinpointed key areas for species conservation. Our results indicated that C. subspinosus is distributed continuously in the Atlantic forest from southeastern Espirito Santo to central-eastern Sergipe state, totaling 104,326 km2 of occurrence area, although only 3,299 km2 (13.3%) is currently represented by native forests (species habitat). C. subspinosus was absent or at least so rare that it was not detected in more than half of the locations sampled by interviews (53.5%). Our results suggest that populations are sensitive to climatic conditions and habitat loss, becoming abruptly rarer when the remaining forest cover reaches less than 10% area within a region (~ 5,000 km2 scale). This result indicates that the high deforestation level of the Atlantic forest is already close to the limit of regional species resistance. Bahia state still harbors the bulk of the remaining forest with high climatic suitability, and generally under low levels of legal protection. Herein we highlight priority areas and research gaps that could guide decision makers to promote conservation strategies for this threatened species.
Project description:Conservationists often have difficulty obtaining financial and social support for protected areas that do not demonstrate their benefits for society. Therefore, ecosystem services have gained importance in conservation science in the last decade, as these services provide further justification for appropriate management and conservation of natural systems. We used InVEST software and a set of GIS procedures to quantify, spatialize and evaluated the overlap between ecosystem services-carbon stock and sediment retention-and a biodiversity proxy-habitat quality. In addition, we proposed a method that serves as an initial approach of a priority areas selection process. The method considers the synergism between ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation. Our study region is the Iron Quadrangle, an important Brazilian mining province and a conservation priority area located in the interface of two biodiversity hotspots, the Cerrado and Atlantic Forest biomes. The resultant priority area for the maintenance of the highest values of ecosystem services and habitat quality was about 13% of the study area. Among those priority areas, 30% are already within established strictly protected areas, and 12% are in sustainable use protected areas. Following the transparent and highly replicable method we proposed in this study, conservation planners can better determine which areas fulfill multiple goals and can locate the trade-offs in the landscape. We also gave a step towards the improvement of the habitat quality model with a topography parameter. In areas of very rugged topography, we have to consider geomorfometric barriers for anthropogenic impacts and for species movement and we must think beyond the linear distances. Moreover, we used a model that considers the tree mortality caused by edge effects in the estimation of carbon stock. We found low spatial congruence among the modeled services, mostly because of the pattern of sediment retention distribution.
Project description:National reserve networks are one of the most important means of species conservation, but their efficiency may be diminished due to the projected climatic changes. Using bioclimatic envelope models and spatial data on habitats and conservation areas, we studied how efficient the reserve network will be in preserving 100 forest, mire, marshland, and alpine bird species of conservation concern in Finland in 2051-2080 under three different climate scenarios. The occurrences of the studied bird species were related to the amount of habitat preferred by each species in the different boreal zones. We employed a novel integrated habitat suitability index that takes into account both the species' probability of occurrence from the bioclimatic models and the availability of suitable habitat. Using this suitability index, the distribution of the topmost 5% suitability squares ("hotspots") in the four bird species groups in the period 1971-2000 and under the three scenarios were compared with the location of reserves with the highest amounts of the four habitats to study the efficiency of the network. In species of mires, marshlands, and Arctic mountains, a high proportion of protected habitat was included in the 5% hotspots in the scenarios in 2051-2080, showing that protected areas cover a high proportion of occurrences of bird species. In contrast, in forests in the southern and middle boreal zones, only a small proportion of the protected habitat was included in the 5% hotspots, indicating that the efficiency of the protected area network will be insufficient for forest birds in the future. In the northern boreal zone, the efficiency of the reserve network in forests was highly dependent on the strength of climate change varying between the scenarios. Overall, there is no single solution to preserving biodiversity in a changing climate, but several future pathways should be considered.
Project description:Conservation planning relies on integrating existing knowledge, social-environmental contexts, and potential threats to identify gaps and opportunities for action. Here we present a case study on how priority areas for conservation can be determined using existing information on biodiversity occurrence and threats. Specifically, our goals are: (1) to model the ecological niche of twelve endemic snake species in the Dry Chaco Forest, (2) to quantify the impact of the deforestation rates on their distributions, (3) to propose high priority areas for conservation in order to improve the actual protected area system, and (4) to evaluate the influence of the human footprint on the optimization of selected priority areas. Our results demonstrate that Argentinian Dry Chaco represent, on average, ~74% of the distribution of endemic snake species and deforestation has reduced suitable areas of all snake species in the region. Further, the current protected areas are likely insufficient to conserve these species as only very low percentages (3.27%) of snakes' ranges occur within existing protected areas. Our models identified high priority areas in the north of the Chaco forest where continuous, well-conserved forest still exists. These high priority areas include transition zones within the foothill forest and areas that could connect patches of forest between the western and eastern Chaco forest. Our findings identify spatial priorities that minimize conflicts with human activities, a key issue for this biodiversity hotspot area. We argue that consultation with stakeholders and decision-makers are urgently needed in order to take concrete actions to protect the habitat, or we risk losing the best conservation opportunities to protect endemic snakes that inhabit the Argentinian Dry Chaco.
Project description:The maned sloth Bradypus torquatus (Pilosa, Bradypodidae) is endemic to a small area in the Atlantic Forest of coastal Brazil. It has been listed as a threatened species because of its restricted geographic range, habitat loss and fragmentation, and declining populations. The major objectives of this study were to estimate its potential geographic distribution, the climatic conditions across its distributional range, and to identify suitable areas and potential species strongholds. We developed a model of habitat suitability for the maned sloth using two methods, Maxent and Mahalanobis Distance, based on 42 occurrence points. We evaluated environmental variable importance and the predictive ability of the generated distribution models. Our results suggest that the species distribution could be strongly influenced by environmental factors, mainly temperature seasonality. The modeled distribution of the maned sloth included known areas of occurrence in the Atlantic Forest (Sergipe, Bahia, Espírito Santo, and Rio de Janeiro), but did not match the observed distributional gaps in northern Rio de Janeiro, northern Espírito Santo or southern Bahia. Rather, the model showed that these areas are climatically suitable for the maned sloth, and thus suggests that factors other than climate might be responsible for the absence of species. Suitable areas for maned sloth were located mainly in the mountainous region of central Rio de Janeiro throughout Espírito Santo and to the coastal region of southern Bahia. We indicate 17 stronghold areas and recommended survey areas for the maned sloth. In addition, we highlight specific areas for conservation, including the current network protected areas. Our results can be applied for novel surveys and discovery of unknown populations, and help the selection of priority areas for management and conservation planning, especially of rare and relatively cryptic species directed associated with forested habitats.
Project description:Europe has the world's most extensive network of conservation areas. Conservation areas are selected without taking into account the effects of climate change. How effectively would such areas conserve biodiversity under climate change? We assess the effectiveness of protected areas and the Natura 2000 network in conserving a large proportion of European plant and terrestrial vertebrate species under climate change. We found that by 2080, 58?±?2.6% of the species would lose suitable climate in protected areas, whereas losses affected 63?±?2.1% of the species of European concern occurring in Natura 2000 areas. Protected areas are expected to retain climatic suitability for species better than unprotected areas (P?<?0.001), but Natura 2000 areas retain climate suitability for species no better and sometimes less effectively than unprotected areas. The risk is high that ongoing efforts to conserve Europe's biodiversity are jeopardized by climate change. New policies are required to avert this risk.
Project description:Expanding the network of protected areas is a core strategy for conserving biodiversity in the face of climate change. Here, we explore the impacts on reserve network cost and configuration associated with planning for climate change in the USA using networks that prioritize areas projected to be climatically suitable for 1460 species both today and into the future, climatic refugia and areas likely to facilitate climate-driven species movements. For 14% of the species, networks of sites selected solely to protect areas currently climatically suitable failed to provide climatically suitable habitat in the future. Protecting sites climatically suitable for species today and in the future significantly changed the distribution of priority sites across the USA-increasing relative protection in the northeast, northwest and central USA. Protecting areas projected to retain their climatic suitability for species cost 59% more than solely protecting currently suitable areas. Including all climatic refugia and 20% of areas that facilitate climate-driven movements increased the cost by another 18%. Our results indicate that protecting some types of climatic refugia may be a relatively inexpensive adaptation strategy. Moreover, although addressing climate change in conservation plans will have significant implications for the configuration of networks, the increased cost of doing so may be relatively modest. This article is part of the theme issue 'Climate change and ecosystems: threats, opportunities and solutions'.
Project description:Palms are keystone species in tropical ecosystems and provide essential ecosystem services to rural people worldwide. However, many palm species are threatened by habitat loss and over-exploitation. Furthermore, palms are sensitive to climate and thus vulnerable to future climate changes. Here, we provide a first quantitative assessment of the future risks to the African palm flora, finding that African palm species on average may experience a decline in climatic suitability in >70% of their current ranges by 2080. This suitability loss may, however, be almost halved if migration to nearby climatically suitable sites succeeds. Worryingly, 42% of the areas with 80-100% of species losing climate suitability are also characterized by high human population density (HPD). By 2080, >90% of all African palm species' ranges will likely occur at HPDs leading to increased risks of habitat loss and overexploitation. Additionally, up to 87% of all species are predicted to lose climatic suitability within current protected areas (PAs) by 2080. In summary, a major plant component of tropical ecosystems and provider of ecosystem services to rural populations will face strongly increased pressures from climate change and human populations in the near future.
Project description:In the present work, we use an exceptional database including 5,359 records of 101 species of Oman's terrestrial reptiles together with spatial tools to infer the spatial patterns of species richness and endemicity, to infer the habitat preference of each species and to better define conservation priorities, with especial focus on the effectiveness of the protected areas in preserving this unique arid fauna. Our results indicate that the sampling effort is not only remarkable from a taxonomic point of view, with multiple observations for most species, but also for the spatial coverage achieved. The observations are distributed almost continuously across the two-dimensional climatic space of Oman defined by the mean annual temperature and the total annual precipitation and across the Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of the multivariate climatic space and are well represented within 17 out of the 20 climatic clusters grouping 10% of the explained climatic variance defined by PC1 and PC2. Species richness is highest in the Hajar and Dhofar Mountains, two of the most biodiverse areas of the Arabian Peninsula, and endemic species richness is greatest in the Jebel Akhdar, the highest part of the Hajar Mountains. Oman's 22 protected areas cover only 3.91% of the country, including within their limits 63.37% of terrestrial reptiles and 50% of all endemics. Our analyses show that large areas of the climatic space of Oman lie outside protected areas and that seven of the 20 climatic clusters are not protected at all. The results of the gap analysis indicate that most of the species are below the conservation target of 17% or even the less restrictive 12% of their total area within a protected area in order to be considered adequately protected. Therefore, an evaluation of the coverage of the current network of protected areas and the identification of priority protected areas for reptiles using reserve design algorithms are urgently needed. Our study also shows that more than half of the species are still pending of a definitive evaluation by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Project description:Setting aside protected areas is a key strategy for tackling biodiversity loss. Reserve effectiveness depends on the extent to which protected areas capture both known occurrences and areas likely to support the species. We assessed the effectiveness of the existing reserve network for Leadbeater's Possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) and other forest-dependent species, and compared the existing reserve system to a set of plausible reserve expansion options based on area targets implied in a recent Population Viability Analysis (PVA). The existing Leadbeater's Reserve and surrounding reserve system captured 7.6% and 29.6% of cumulative habitat suitability, respectively, across the landscape. Expanded reserve scenarios captured 34% to 62% of cumulative habitat suitability. We found acute trade-offs between conserving Leadbeater's Possum habitat and conserving habitat of other forest-dependent species. Our analysis provides a template for systematically expanding and evaluating reserve expansion options in terms of trade-offs between priority species' needs.