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Revealing areas of high nature conservation importance in aseasonally dry tropical forest in Brazil: Combination of modelled plantdiversity hot spots and threat patterns
Citation key Koch2016
Author Koch, R. and Almeida-Cortezb, J. S. and Kleinschmit, B.
Pages 24-39
Year 2017
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jnc.2016.11.004
Journal Journal for Nature Conservation
Volume 35
Publisher Elsevier
Abstract The Caatinga biome has been identified as one of the important wilderness areas on earth. However, lessthan 1% of the region is under strictly legal protection although Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests (SDTFs)are globally highly endangered. There is an urgent need to increase the understanding of diversity patternand threaten status of Caatinga plant species to preserve the unique biodiversity and protect endangeredspecies. Species distribution modelling (SDM) can support strategic decisions in nature conservation forpoorly researched tropical regions. This study provides the first highly representative, spatially explicitoverview of plant diversity and threat status for the entire Caatinga, a semi-arid area in Northeast Brazil.For this purpose, we developed (a) a stacked species distribution modelling (S-SDM) approach to pre-dict quantitatively floristic species richness and patterns of threatened plant species and (b) a combinedapproach of diversity hot spots and hubs of threatened species to derive conservation importance units(CIU) to contribute to improved nature reserve management. We applied the modelling technique MaxEntto establish predictive distribution models with 22 uncorrelated predictors including climate, topogra-phy, solar radiation and soil information at a high spatial resolution of 30 arc-seconds (approx. 1 km).Spatial patterns of species richness and threat status were derived by stacking 1062 plant species and 27endangered species, respectively. These outputs were compared to two levels of protected areas (Brazilianand international standards) and intensive human land use patterns to define a set of recommendationsfor conservation management. Our complementary S-SDM approach showed that our predicted CIUscovered an area of 24% across the entire biome, whereas only 7% of the Caatinga is currently protectedbased on the Brazilian standards. We found that apart from an excellent overlap of 38% between CIUsand the current protected areas, a substantial proportion of CIUs (89%) was predicted outside the existingreserve network. Moreover, our findings enable targeted surveys to be done in order to enhance conser-vation efforts and ensure the efficient use of available resources in this poorly studied tropical region.Future upcoming local and regional studies could focus on a multi-taxonomic approach including e.g.insects, reptiles or mammals as a holistic perspective towards biodiversity conservation.
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