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Place prioritization for biodiversity reserve network design: a comparison of the SITES and ResNet software packages for coverage and efficiency

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The place prioritization problem in conservation biology is that of establishing a sequentially prioritized list of places on the basis of biodiversity content. Such a list can then be used to select reserve networks that are designed to be fully representative of the biodiversity of an area as efficiently as possible (for instance, with minimum area or cost). The usual goal is the representation of all chosen biodiversity surrogates up to or beyond a required target, or to the greatest available extent. The purpose of this paper is to compare the respective performances of two place prioritization software packages, SITES and ResNet, on four datasets (distributions of termite genera in Namibia, breeding bird species in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas, vertebrate species in Texas and flora and fauna species that are at risk in Qu├ębec), to determine their respective merits. The two software packages implement radically different algorithms: SITES is based on a simulated annealing procedure for finding (local) optima; ResNet uses an algorithm based on rarity and complementarity. This analysis indicates that the rarity-complementarity based algorithm of ResNet surpasses the simulated annealing approach of SITES with respect to time and completeness. SITES, however, contains other features that are useful in conservation planning. Ways in which the two packages can be used together effectively are suggested.
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Keywords: ResNet; SITES; conservation planning; place prioritization; reserve design; site selection

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Biodiversity and Biocultural Conservation Laboratory, Program in the History and Philosophy of Science, Waggener 316, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712–1180, USA

Publication date: 2002-09-01

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