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Modeling species distribution from atlas data for selection of priority areas for bird conservation

2010Modelling species distribution from atlas data for selection of priority areas for bird conservationROSSI Marzia (Italy)
Organisation: University of East Anglia, Norwich (UK)Supervisor :Aldina Franco
Summary: 1) In the current context of accelerated rates of biodiversity loss, there is an urgent need to identify and protect areas that maximize the conservation potential of populations and ecosystems. Traditional approaches to identify these areas are generally limited to expert opinions and constrained by data availability. In light of the widely recognized inadequacy of existing networks of protected areas, there is a need for more systematic and objective approaches to optimize the reserve selection process and conservation outcomes.

2) In this study, the statistical ZONATION algorithm based on area-prioritization for conservation and recently published distributional data is used to identify priority areas for the conservation of persistent populations of several Portuguese breeding birds.

3) The priority areas identified using this systematic approach and newly available species distributional data have little overlap with the existing network of Important Bird Areas (IBA) and Special Protection Areas (SPA) based on expert opinion. 4) Synthesis and applications. This study identifies priority areas for conservation of many bird species in Portugal using newly available distributional atlas data and the ZONATION reserve-selection algorithm. The sites identified in this study show little overlap with protected areas based on expert opinion. These results represent an opportunity to identify potential sites to complement existing networks of protected areas in Portugal, where experts could effectively direct efforts for more detailed analysis and planning.