Comparing abundance distributions and range maps in spatial conservation planning for migratory species

A. Johnston*, T. Auer, D. Fink, M. Strimas-Mackey, M. Ilife, K. Rosenberg, S. Brown, R. Lanctot, A. D. Rodewald, S. Kelling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Most spatial conservation planning for wide-ranging or migratory species is constrained by poor knowledge of species' spatiotemporal dynamics and is only based on static species' ranges. However, species have substantial variation in abundance across their range and migratory species have important spatiotemporal population dynamics. With growing ecological data and advancing analytics, both of these can be estimated and incorporated into spatial conservation planning. However, there is limited information on the degree to which including this information affects conservation planning. We compared the performance of systematic conservation prioritizations for different scenarios based on varying the input species' distributions by ecological metric (abundance distributions versus range maps) and temporal sampling resolution (weekly, monthly, or quarterly). We used the example of a community of 41 species of migratory shorebirds that breed in North America, and we used eBird data to produce weekly estimates of species' abundances and ranges. Abundance distributions at a monthly or weekly resolution led to prioritizations that most efficiently protected species throughout the full annual cycle. Conversely, spatial prioritizations based on species' ranges required more sites and left most species insufficiently protected for at least part of their annual cycle. Prioritizations with only quarterly species ranges were very inefficient as they needed to target 40% of species' ranges to include 10% of populations. We highlight the high value of abundance information for spatial conservation planning, which leads to more efficient and effective spatial prioritization for conservation. Overall, we provide evidence that spatial conservation planning for wide-ranging migratory species is most robust and efficient when informed by species' abundance information from the full annual cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalEcological Applications
Volume30
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

Keywords

  • abundance
  • citizen science
  • conservation planning
  • eBird
  • full annual cycle
  • migration
  • spatial prioritization
  • species distribution models
  • CITIZEN SCIENCE DATA
  • MARINE CONSERVATION
  • PROTECTED AREAS
  • PRIORITY SITES
  • CONNECTIVITY
  • MODELS
  • BIRDS
  • PRIORITIZATION
  • DYNAMICS
  • HABITAT

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