Area prioritization and performance evaluation of the conservation area network for the Moroccan herpetofauna: a preliminary assessment
Source: Biodiversity and Conservation, Volume 20, Number 1, January 2011 , pp. 89-118(30)
Abstract:The integration of spatial area prioritization algorithms and species distribution modelling has shown great promise in conservation planning in recent years. However, despite the fact that reptiles and amphibians have the highest threat status of all terrestrial vertebrates, these species are often under-represented in conservation planning. The Kingdom of Morocco possesses the richest and most varied herpetofauna in the Maghreb and the western Mediterranean, and is characterized by high species richness, endemism and number of European relict species. Despite the fact that Moroccan reptiles and amphibians have been the subject of numerous studies by a large number of international herpetologists since the beginning of the 20th century, few or none of these concerned their conservation. This study had three main objectives: (1) to identify those areas that harbour the highest species richness; (2) to evaluate the existing and proposed future ‘important biological and ecological sites’ (SIBES) conservation area network (CAN) with respect to their ability to protect the herpetofauna adequately; and (3) to identify priority areas into which the existing protected areas can be augmented. We used maximum-entropy species distribution modelling to run distribution models for 11 amphibian and 86 reptile species (27.6% endemics and 12.4% threatened) for which we had 2,170 single geographic records. A total of 97 models were used to create a richness map of the Moroccan herpetofauna and thereby detect both areas of high species richness and the distribution patterns of individual species. This map was subsequently used as a basis for performance evaluation of the CAN and area prioritization using the ConsNet conservation planning software initialized by “Rarity” first, while using representation targets of 5% and 10%. Additionally, the proposed future Moroccan CAN (SIBES) was evaluated in terms of its overlay and proximity with ConsNet solutions using visual interpretation and distance measurements in a GIS. Our results show that Moroccan herpetofauna is poorly protected under the existing and future CAN. Prioritization of areas shows that a major increase in conservation area is required to guarantee the persistence of individual herpetofauna species even with a global minimum representation target of only 10%. An increase of the existing CAN is especially needed along parts of the Atlantic coast, in the north-western Mediterranean region, on the north-eastern Moroccan coast, as well as in several areas in the Sahara, notably vast proportions of the Vallée du Haut and Bas Drâa.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Department of Animal Management, University of Applied Sciences van Hall-Larenstein, Agora 1, 8934 CJ, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, Email: email@example.com 2: Department of Animal Management, University of Applied Sciences van Hall-Larenstein, Agora 1, 8934 CJ, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands 3: Biogéographie et Ecologie des Vertébrés, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, UMR 5175, CEFE-CNRS, 1919 route de Mende, 34293, Montpellier-cedex 5, France
Publication date: 2011-01-01