Prioritizing global marine mammal habitats using density maps in place of range maps
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Despite lessons from terrestrial systems, conservation efforts in marine systems continue to focus on identifying priority sites for protection based on high species richness inferred from range maps. Range maps oversimplify spatial variability in animal distributions by assuming uniform distribution within range and de facto giving equal weight to critical and marginal habitats. We used Marxan ver. 2.43 to compare species richness-based systematic reserve network solutions using information about marine mammal range and relative abundance. At a global scale, reserve network solutions were strongly sensitive to model inputs and assumptions. Solutions based on different input data overlapped by a third at most, with agreement as low as 10% in some cases. At a regional scale, species richness was inversely related to density, such that species richness hotspots excluded highest-density areas for all species. Based on these findings, we caution that species-richness estimates derived from range maps and used as input in conservation planning exercises may inadvertently lead to protection of largely marginal habitat.
Williams , R , Grand , J , Hooker , S K , Buckland , S T , Reeves , R R , Rojas-Bracho , L , Sandilands , D & Kaschner , K 2014 , ' Prioritizing global marine mammal habitats using density maps in place of range maps ' Ecography , vol 37 , no. 3 , pp. 212-220 . DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2013.00479.x
© 2013 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
RW was supported by a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IIF
- University of St Andrews Research
- Biology Research
- Mathematics & Statistics Research
- Centre for Research into Ecological & Environmental Modelling (CREEM) Research
- Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciences Research
- NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) Research
- St Andrews Sustainability Institute Research
- Scottish Oceans Institute Research
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