Less than 6%% of the coterminous United States is in nature reserves. Assessment of the occurrence of nature reserves across ranges of elevation and soil productivity classes indicates that nature reserves are most frequently found at higher elevations and on less productive soils. The distribution of plants and animals suggests that the greatest number of species is found at lower elevations. A preliminary assessment of the occurrence of mapped land cover types indicates that ∼∼60%% of mapped cover types have <10%% of their area in nature reserves. Land ownership patterns show that areas of lower elevation and more productive soils are most often privately owned and already extensively converted to urban and agricultural uses. Thus any effort to establish a system of nature reserves that captures the full geographical and ecological range of cover types and species must fully engage the private sector. For reprints of this Invited Feature, see footnote 1, p. 945.
Ecological Applications – Ecological Society of America
Published: Aug 1, 2001
Keywords: biodiversity ; coterminus United States ; elevation ; endangered species ; gap analysis ; land use ; nature reserves ; public lands ; soil productivity
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