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A Multispecies Approach to Ecological Valuation and Conservation

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Abstract:

The conservation of ecosystems focuses on evaluating individual sites or landscapes based on their component species. To produce a map of conservation values, we developed a method to weight habitat-suitability maps for individual species by species-specific extinction risks. The value of a particular site reflects the importance and magnitude of the threats facing the component species of the ecological community. We applied this approach to a set of species from the California Gap Analysis Project. The resulting map of multispecies conservation values identified the areas with the best habitat for the species most vulnerable to extinction. These methods are flexible and can accommodate the quantity and quality of data available for each individual species in both the development of the habitat-suitability maps and the estimation of the extinction risks. Additionally, the multispecies conservation value can accommodate specific conservation goals, such as preservation of local endemics, making it useful for prioritizing conservation and management actions. This approach provides an estimate of the ecological worth of a site based on habitat characteristics and quantitative models in terms of all the ecological components of a site, rather than a single threatened or endangered species.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Applied Biomathematics, 100 North Country Road, Setauket, NY 11733–1300, U.S.A.

Publication date: February 1, 2003

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