Sensitivity analysis of conservation targets in systematic conservation planning

Levin, Noam, Mazor, Tessa, Brokovich, Eran, Jablon, Pierre-Elie and Kark, Salit (2015) Sensitivity analysis of conservation targets in systematic conservation planning. Ecological Applications, 25 7: 1997-2010. doi:10.5061/dryad.2mb2h

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Author Levin, Noam
Mazor, Tessa
Brokovich, Eran
Jablon, Pierre-Elie
Kark, Salit
Title Sensitivity analysis of conservation targets in systematic conservation planning
Journal name Ecological Applications   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1051-0761
Publication date 2015-10-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.5061/dryad.2mb2h
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 25
Issue 7
Start page 1997
End page 2010
Total pages 14
Place of publication Washington, DC United States
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Systematic conservation planning has rapidly advanced in the past decade and has been increasingly incorporated in multiple studies and conservation projects. One of its requirements is a quantitative definition of conservation targets. While the Convention on Biological Diversity aims to expand the world’s protected area network to 17% of the land surface, in many cases such uniform policy-driven targets may not be appropriate for achieving persistence of various species. Targets are often set arbitrarily, often because information required for the persistence of each species is unavailable or unknown in the focal region. Conservation planners therefore need to establish complementary novel approaches to address the gaps in setting targets. Here, we develop and present a novel method that aims to help guide the selection of conservation targets, providing support for decision makers, planners, and managers. This is achieved by examining the overall flexibility of the
conservation network resulting from conservation prioritization, and aiming for greater flexibility. To test this approach we applied the decision support tool Marxan to determine marine conservation priority areas in the eastern Mediterranean Sea as a case study. We assessed the flexibility of the conservation network by comparing 80 different scenarios in which conservation targets were gradually increased and assessed by a range of calculated metrics (e.g., the percentage of the total area selected, the overall connectivity). We discovered that when conservation targets were set too low (i.e., below 10% of the distribution range of each species), very few areas were identified as irreplaceable and the conservation network was
not well defined. Interestingly, when conservation targets were set too high (over 50% of the species’ range), too many conservation priority areas were selected as irreplaceable, an outcome which is realistically infeasible to implement. As a general guideline, we found that flexibility in a conservation network is adequate when ;1020% of the study area is
considered irreplaceable (selection frequency values over 90%). This approach offers a useful sensitivity analysis when applying target-based systematic conservation planning tools, ensuring that the resulting protected area conservation network offers more choices for managers and decision makers.
Keyword Conservation targets
Levant (eastern Mediterranean)
Mediterranean Sea
Sensitivity analysis
Systematic conservation planning
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

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