Abstract: The identification of conservation areas based on systematic reserve‐selection algorithms requires decisions related to both spatial and ecological scale. These decisions may affect the distribution and number of sites considered priorities for conservation within a region. We explored the sensitivity of systematic reserve selection by altering values of three essential variables. We used a 1:20,000–scale terrestrial ecosystem map and habitat suitability data for 29 threatened vertebrate species in the Okanagan region of British Columbia, Canada. To these data we applied a reserve‐selection algorithm to select conservation sites while altering selection unit size and shape, features of biodiversity (i.e., vertebrate species), and area conservation targets for each biodiversity feature. The spatial similarity, or percentage overlap, of selected sets of conservation sites identified (1) with different selection units was ≤40%, (2) with different biodiversity features was 59%, and (3) with different conservation targets was ≥94%. Because any selected set of sites is only one of many possible sets, we also compared the conservation value (irreplaceability) of all sites in the region for each variation of the data. The correlations of irreplaceability were weak for different selection units (0.23 ≤r≤ 0.67), strong for different biodiversity features (r= 0.84), and mixed for different conservation targets (r= 0.16; 0.16; 1.00). Because of the low congruence of selected sites and weak correlations of irreplaceability for different selection units, recommendations from studies that have been applied at only one spatial scale must be considered cautiously.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Jun 1, 2004
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