Conserving at-risk birds in the tropical Andes: comparing approaches to representing species and minimising conservation conflicts.
O'Dea, Niall*,1, Araújo, Miguel1, Whittaker, Robert1, 1 Biodiversity Research Group, Oxford, UK
ABSTRACT- Where high species richness and high human population density coincide, potential exists for conflict between the imperatives of species conservation and human development. We examine the coincidence of at-risk bird species richness and human population in tropical Andean countries and compare the performance of the expert-driven Important Bird Area (IBA) scheme against that of a systematic reserve selection algorithm in maximising at-risk bird species representation and minimising conservation conflicts. While the correlation of richness and population was low for the region as a whole, representation of all at-risk bird species required many sites to be located in areas of high human population density. However, IBA sites, selected through expert consultation, contained significantly higher human population densities and were significantly less efficient in representing at-risk bird species of the region than sites selected using a maximum representation algorithm. Moreover, overlap between IBAs and these latter sites were very limited. Expert-driven selection procedures may better reflect existing sociopolitical forces, including land ownership and management regimes but are limited in their ability to develop an integrated network of sites to represent priority species. Reserve selection algorithms may serve this end by optimising complementarity in species representation among selected sites, whether these sites are adopted independently or as a supplement to the existing reserve network. As tools of site selection, they are particularly useful in areas such as the tropical Andes where complex patterns of species disjunction and co-occurrence make the development of representative reserve networks particularly difficult. Further, they facilitate making spatially explicit choices about how sites are located in relation to human populations.
Key words: threatened birds, conservation prioritization, human population density, reserve selection
All materials copyright The Ecological Society of America (ESA), and may not be used without written permission.