Conservation priorities for carnivores considering protected natural areas and human population density
Valenzuela-Galván D., Arita HT., Macdonald DW.
We conducted a prioritization exercise for 47 terrestrial carnivores in North and Central America. We used 2 by 2 degree cells to explore the spatial patterns in overall richness, regionally endemic and threatened species and identified the hotspots (the top 10% of cells in each category). We obtained optimal minimum sets of cells to represent each carnivore either (1) at least once, (2) three times, or (3) in at least 10% of its regional distribution range. Our analysis considered cells with 50% or more of their area protected, and considered human population density (HPD) per grid cell, excluding the top 10% cells with higher HPD. We found low congruence among hotspots, suggesting these should not be used alone in directing conservation strategies. About 7, 18 and 84 grid cells are needed to reach each representation goal, respectively. A much higher number of protected cells are needed to achieve the same goals. Representing 10% of each species' distribution range required optimal sets of 47 additional cells to complement the protected cells. Irreplaceable cells had a similar or higher HPD than average values for all cells. By excluding the top 10% of cells with higher HPD, irreplaceable cells in optimal sets had much lower average HPD, but three species cannot be represented at all. By defining conservation priorities and proposing optimal networks of areas needed to represent all carnivores in the region, actual conservation efforts can be reviewed and revised. Furthermore, if our results are incorporated into a general strategy, limited resources available to conserve carnivores might be directed more efficiently. © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.