Abstract: The limited availability of resources for conservation has led to the development of many quantitative methods for selecting reserves that aim to maximize the biodiversity value of reserve networks. In published analyses, species are often considered equal, although some are in much greater need of protection than others. Furthermore, representation is usually treated as a threshold: a species is either represented or not, but varying levels of representation over or under a given target level are not valued differently. We propose that a higher representation level should also have higher value. We introduce a framework for reserve selection that includes species weights and benefit functions for under‐ and overrepresentation (number of locations for each species). We applied the method to conservation planning for herb‐rich forests in southern Finland. Our use of benefit functions and weighting changed the identity of about 50% of the selected sites at different funding levels and improved the representation of rare and threatened species. We also identified a small area of additional land that would substantially enhance the existing reserve network. We suggest that benefit functions and species weighting should be considered as standard options in reserve‐selection applications.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 2005