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Influence of Representation Targets on the Total Area of Conservation-Area Networks

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Systematic conservation planning typically requires specification of quantitative representation targets for biodiversity surrogates such as species, vegetation types, and environmental parameters. Targets are usually specified either as the minimum total area in a conservation-area network in which a surrogate must be present or as the proportion of a surrogate's existing spatial distribution required to be in the network. Because the biological basis for setting targets is often unclear, a better understanding of how targets affect selection of conservation areas is needed. We studied how the total area of conservation-area networks depends on percentage targets ranging from 5% to 95%. We analyzed 12 data sets of different surrogate distributions from 5 regions: Korea, Mexico, Québec, Queensland, and West Virginia. To assess the effect of spatial resolution on the target-area relationship, we also analyzed each data set at 7 spatial resolutions ranging from 0.01°× 0.01° to 0.10°× 0.10°. Most of the data sets showed a linear relationship between representation targets and total area of conservation-area networks that was invariant across changes in spatial resolution. The slope of this relationship indicated how total area increased with target level, and our results suggest that greater surrogate representation requires significantly more area. One data set exhibited a highly nonlinear relationship. The results for this data set suggest a new method for setting targets on the basis of the functional form of target-area relationships. In particular, the method shows how the target-area relationship can provide a rationale for setting targets solely on the basis of distributional information about surrogates.
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Keywords: análisis de escala; conservation objectives; conservation planning; conservation site prioritization; objetivos de conservación; objetivos de representación; planificación de la conservación; priorización de sitios de conservación; representation targets; reserve selection; scale analysis; selección de reservas; selección de áreas de conservación; selection of conservation areas

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Biodiversity and Biocultural Conservation Laboratory, Section of Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, #C0930, Austin, TX 78712-1180, U.S.A.

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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