pp 298a-298d July 2002
pp 299-308 July 2002 Articles
Biodiversity has acquired such a general meaning that people now find it difficult to pin down a precise sense for planning and policy-making aimed at biodiversity conservation. Because biodiversity is rooted in place, the task of conserving biodiversity should target places for conservation action; and because all places contain biodiversity, but not all places can be targeted for action, places have to be prioritized. What is needed for this is a measure of the extent to which biodiversity varies from place to place. We do not need a precise measure of biodiversity to prioritize places. Relative estimates of similarity or difference can be derived using partial measures, or what have come to be called biodiversity surrogates. Biodiversity surrogates are supposed to stand in for general biodiversity in planning applications. We distinguish between true surrogates, those that might truly stand in for general biodiversity, and estimator surrogates, which have true surrogates as their target variable. For example, species richness has traditionally been the estimator surrogate for the true surrogate, species diversity. But species richness does not capture the differences in composition between places; the essence of biodiversity. Another measure, called complementarity, explicitly captures the differences between places as we iterate the process of place prioritization, starting with an initial place. The relative concept of biodiversity built into the definition of complementarity has the level of precision needed to undertake conservation planning.
pp 309-326 July 2002 Articles
Biodiversity priority areas together should represent the biodiversity of the region they are situated in. To achieve this, biodiversity has to be measured, biodiversity goals have to be set and methods for implementing those goals have to be applied. Each of these steps is discussed. Because it is impossible to measure all of biodiversity, biodiversity surrogates have to be used. Examples are taxa sub-sets, species assemblages and environmental domains. Each of these has different strengths and weaknesses, which are described and evaluated. In real-world priority setting, some combination of these is usually employed. While a desirable goal might be to sample all of biodiversity from genotypes to ecosystems, an achievable goal is to represent, at some agreed level, each of the biodiversity features chosen as surrogates. Explicit systematic procedures for implementing such a goal are described. These procedures use complementarity, a measure of the contribution each area in a region makes to the conservation goal, to estimate irreplaceability and flexibility, measures of the extent to which areas can be substituted for one another in order to take competing land uses into account. Persistence and vulnerability, which also play an important role in the priority setting process, are discussed briefly.
pp 327-338 July 2002 Articles
The data needed to prioritize areas for biodiversity protection are records of biodiversity features — species, species assemblages, environmental classes — for each candidate area. Prioritizing areas means comparing candidate areas, so the data used to make such comparisons should be comparable in quality and quantity. Potential sources of suitable data include museums, herbariums and natural resource management agencies. Issues of data precision, accuracy and sampling bias in data sets from such sources are discussed and methods for treating data to minimize bias are reviewed.
pp 339-346 July 2002 Articles
The prioritization of places on the basis of biodiversity content is part of any systematic biodiversity conservation planning process. The place prioritization procedure implemented in the ResNet software package is described. This procedure is primarily based on the principles of rarity and complementarity. Application of the procedure is demonstrated with two analyses, one data set consisting of the distributions of termite genera in Namibia, and the other consisting of the distributions of bird species in the Islas Malvinas/Falkland Islands. The attributes that data sets should have for the effective and reliable application of such procedures are discussed. The procedure used here is compared to some others that are also currently in use.
pp 347-360 July 2002 Articles
Surrogacy analysis consists of determining a set of biotic or environmental parameters which can be rapidly assessed in the field and reliably used to prioritize places for biodiversity conservation. Whether adequate surrogate sets exist remains an open and relatively unexplored question though its solution is central to the aims of conservation biology. This paper analyses the surrogacy problem by prioritizing places using surrogate lists and comparing these results with those obtained by using more comprehensive species lists. More specifically, it explores (i) the possibility of using bird distributions, which are often easily available, as surrogates for species at risk (endangered and threatened species), which are presumed to be an important component of biodiversity; and (ii) the methodological question of how spatial scale influences surrogate success. The data set analysed, from southern Québec, is one of the most complete biotic data sets available at the regional scale. Contrary to some previous analyses, the results obtained suggest that the surrogacy problem is potentially solvable.
pp 361-384 July 2002 Articles
An objective of biodiversity conservation activities is to minimize the exposure of biodiversity features to threatening processes and to ensure, as far as possible, that biodiversity persists in the landscape. We discuss how issues of vulnerability and persistence can and should be addressed at all stages of the conservation planning and implementation process. Procedures for estimating the likelihood of persistence and for measuring degrees of vulnerability at different spatial and temporal scales using subjective assessments, rules of thumb and analytical and simulation models are reviewed. The application of information on vulnerability and persistence to conservation planning and management is discussed under the headings of natural dynamics, replication of protection, levels of representation, source and sink population structures, refuges and critical resources, reserve design, habitat fragmentation and levels of management.
pp 385-392 July 2002 Articles
One of the early tenets of conservation biology is that population viability is enhanced by maintaining multiple populations of a species. The strength of this tenet is justified by principles of bet-hedging. Management strategies that reduce variance in population size will also reduce risk of extinction. Asynchrony in population fluctuations in independent populations reduces variance in the aggregate of populations whereas environmental correlation among areas increases the risk that all populations will go extinct. We review the theoretical rationale of bet-hedging and suggest applications for conservation management of least terns in Nebraska and grizzly bears in the northern Rocky Mountains of the United States. The risk of extinction for least terns will be reduced if we can sustain the small central Platte River population in addition to the larger population on the lower Platte. Similarly, by restoring grizzly bears to the Bitterroot wilderness of Idaho and Montana can reduce the probability of extinction for grizzly bears in the Rocky Mountains of the United States by as much as 69–93%.
pp 393-407 July 2002 Articles
Biodiversity conservation planning requires trade-offs, given the realities of limited resources and the competing demands of society. If net benefits for society are important, biodiversity assessment cannot occur without other sectoral factors “on the table”. In trade-offs approaches, the biodiversity value of a given area is expressed in terms of the species or other components of biodiversity that it has that are additional to the components protected elsewhere. That “marginal gain” is called thecomplementarity value of the area. A recent whole-country planning study for Papua New Guinea illustrates the importance of complementarity-based tradeoffs in determining priority areas for biodiversity conservation, and for designing economic instruments such as biodiversity levies and offsets. Two international biodiversity programs provide important new opportunities for biodiversity trade-offs taking complementarity into account. Both the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the Critical Ecosystems or “hotspots” programs can benefit from an explicit framework that incorporates tradeoffs, in which a balance is achieved not only by land-use allocation among areas, but also by the crediting of partial protection of biodiversity provided by sympathetic management within areas. For both international programs, our trade-offs framework can provide a natural linkage between local, regional and global planning levels.
pp 409-420 July 2002 Articles
Classic ecological restoration seems tacitly to have taken the Clementsian “balance of nature” paradigm for granted: plant succession terminates in a climax community which remains at equilibrium until exogenously disturbed after which the process of succession is restarted until the climax is reached. Human disturbance is regarded as unnatural and to have commenced in the Western Hemisphere at the time of European incursion. Classic ecological restoration thus has a clear and unambiguous target and may be conceived as aiming to foreshorten the natural processes that would eventually lead to the climax of a given site, which may be determined by its state at “settlement”. According to the new “flux of nature” paradigm in ecology a given site has notelos and is constantly changing. Human disturbance is ubiquitous and long-standing, and at certain spatial and temporal scales is “incorporated”. Any moment in the past 10,000 years that may be selected as a benchmark for restoration efforts thus appears to be arbitrary. Two prominent conservationists have therefore suggested that the ecological conditions in North America at the Pleistocene—Holocene boundary, prior to the anthropogenic extinction of the Pleistocene megafauna, be the target for ecological restoration. That suggestion explicitly assumes evolutionary temporal scales and continental spatial scales as the appropriate frame of reference for ecological restoration. However, ecological restoration should be framed in ecological spatio-temporal scales, which may be defined temporally in reference to ecological processes such as disturbance regimes and spatially in reference to ecological units such as landscapes, ecosystems, and biological provinces. Ecological spatio-temporal scales are also useful in achieving a scientifically defensible distinction between native and exotic species, which plays so central a role in the practice of ecological restoration and the conservation of biodiversity. Because post-settlement human disturbances have exceeded the limits of such scales, settlement conditions can be justified scientifically as appropriate targets of restoration efforts without recourse to obsolete teleological concepts of equilibria and without ignoring the presence and ecological influence of indigenous peoples.
pp 421-435 July 2002 Articles
Explicit, quantitative procedures for identifying biodiversity priority areas are replacing the often ad hoc procedures used in the past to design networks of reserves to conserve biodiversity. This change facilitates more informed choices by policy makers, and thereby makes possible greater satisfaction of conservation goals with increased efficiency. A key feature of these procedures is the use of the principle of complementarity, which ensures that areas chosen for inclusion in a reserve network complement those already selected. This paper sketches the historical development of the principle of complementarity and its applications in practical policy decisions. In the first section a brief account is given of the circumstances out of which concerns for more explicit systematic methods for the assessment of the conservation value of different areas arose. The second section details the emergence of the principle of complementarity in four independent contexts. The third section consists of case studies of the use of the principle of complementarity to make practical policy decisions in Australasia, Africa, and America. In the last section, an assessment is made of the extent to which the principle of complementarity transformed the practice of conservation biology by introducing new standards of rigor and explicitness.