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The sensitivity of gap analysis to conservation targets

Abstract : A crucial stage in systematic conservation planning is the definition of explicit conservation targets to be achieved by a network of protected areas. A wide variety of targets have been employed, including overall percentage area, uniform representation of biodiversity features, and variable targets according to conservation interest. Despite the diversity of options, most studies adopt a particular set of targets without further explanation , and few have investigated the effect of target selection on their results. Here, using a data set on the distribution of plants and terrestrial vertebrates in southern France, we investigate how variation in targets can affect both stages of a gap analysis: the assessment of the completeness of an existing reserve network, and the prioritization of areas for its expansion. Target selection had a major impact on the gap analysis results, with uniform targets (50% of each species' range) emphasizing the representation of common species, and contrasting targets (weighted according to species' conservation interest) concentrating attention on high conservation interest species and the areas where they occur. Systematic conservation planning exercises should thus pay close attention to the definition and justification of the representation targets employed.
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Ruppert Vimal, Ana Rodrigues, Raphael Mathevet, John Thompson. The sensitivity of gap analysis to conservation targets. Biodiversity and Conservation, Springer Verlag, 2011, 20, pp.531 - 543. ⟨10.1007/s10531-010-9963-1⟩. ⟨hal-02456080⟩

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