Biodiversity conservation requires efficient methods for choosing priority areas for in situ conservation management. We compared three quantitative methods for choosing 5% (an arbitrary figure) of all the 10 × 10 km grid cells in Britain to represent the diversity of breeding birds: (1) hotspots of richness, which selects the areas richest in species; (2) hotspots of range‐size rarity (narrow endemism), which selects areas richest in those species with the most restricted ranges; and (3) sets of complementary areas, which selects areas with the greatest combined species richness. Our results show that richness hotspots contained the highest number of species‐in‐grid‐cell records (with many representations of the more widespread species), whereas the method of complementary areas obtained the lowest number. However, whereas richness hotspots included representation of 89% of British species of breeding birds, and rarity hotspots included 98%, the areas chosen using complementarity represented all the species, where possible, at least six times over. The method of complementary areas was also well suited to supplementing the existing conservation network. For example, starting with grid cells with over 50% area cover by existing “Sites of Special Scientific Interest,” we searched for a set of areas that could complete the representation of all the most threatened birds in Britain, the Red Data species. The method of complementary areas distinguishes between irreplaceable and flexible areas, which helps planners by providing alternatives for negotiation. This method can also show which particular species justify the choice of each area. Yet the complementary areas method will not be fully able to select the best areas for conservation management until we achieve integration of some of the more important factors affecting viability, threat, and cost.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Feb 1, 1996
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