Environmental diversity as a surrogate for species representation

Paul Beier, Fábio Suzart de Albuquerque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Because many species have not been described and most species ranges have not been mapped, conservation planners often use surrogates for conservation planning, but evidence for surrogate effectiveness is weak. Surrogates are well-mapped features such as soil types, landforms, occurrences of an easily observed taxon (discrete surrogates), and well-mapped environmental conditions (continuous surrogate). In the context of reserve selection, the idea is that a set of sites selected to span diversity in the surrogate will efficiently represent most species. Environmental diversity (ED) is a rarely used surrogate that selects sites to efficiently span multivariate ordination space. Because it selects across continuous environmental space, ED should perform better than discrete surrogates (which necessarily ignore within-bin and between-bin heterogeneity). Despite this theoretical advantage, ED appears to have performed poorly in previous tests of its ability to identify 50 × 50 km cells that represented vertebrates in Western Europe. Using an improved implementation of ED, we retested ED on Western European birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and combined terrestrial vertebrates. We also tested ED on data sets for plants of Zimbabwe, birds of Spain, and birds of Arizona (United States). Sites selected using ED represented European mammals no better than randomly selected cells, but they represented species in the other 7 data sets with 20% to 84% effectiveness. This far exceeds the performance in previous tests of ED, and exceeds the performance of most discrete surrogates. We believe ED performed poorly in previous tests because those tests considered only a few candidate explanatory variables and used suboptimal forms of ED's selection algorithm. We suggest future work on ED focus on analyses at finer grain sizes more relevant to conservation decisions, explore the effect of selecting the explanatory variables most associated with species turnover, and investigate whether nonclimate abiotic variables can provide useful surrogates in an ED framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1401-1410
Number of pages10
JournalConservation Biology
Volume29
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

Fingerprint

birds
bird
vertebrates
testing
mammals
vertebrate
mammal
landforms
Zimbabwe
Western European region
reptiles
conservation planning
amphibians
soil types
reptile
ordination
planning
amphibian
Spain
landform

Keywords

  • Complementarity
  • Conservation planning
  • Environmental diversity
  • minisum
  • Species accumulation index
  • Surrogates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Environmental diversity as a surrogate for species representation. / Beier, Paul; de Albuquerque, Fábio Suzart.

In: Conservation Biology, Vol. 29, No. 5, 01.10.2015, p. 1401-1410.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Beier, Paul ; de Albuquerque, Fábio Suzart. / Environmental diversity as a surrogate for species representation. In: Conservation Biology. 2015 ; Vol. 29, No. 5. pp. 1401-1410.
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