Australian Systematic Botany Australian Systematic Botany Society
Taxonomy, biogeography and evolution of plants

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Descriptive bioregionalization and conservation biogeography: What is the true bioregional representativeness of protected areas?

Alejandro Giraudo , Vanesa Arzamendia


Conservation Biogeography involves the application of biogeographical principles and methods to conservation issues, including the design of protected areas. Bioregionalization have been central in the implementation of main global conservation strategies, providing the basis for prioritizing protected areas and evaluating their representativeness and effectiveness in conservation actions. Traditionally, experts established these bioregionalizations without repeatable methodologies and using only qualitative evidence, which has set constraints in their usefulness. We compared three descriptive bioregionalizations commonly used for conservation decision-making, with a regionalization produced using quantitative methods (Endemicity Analysis) in order to assess biases and differences in the representativeness of the existing protected area system of Argentina. Areas of endemism were detected using NDM/VNDM quantitative methodology on a database consisting of 19250 distribution records of 116 taxa of snakes, and compared the results with previous descriptive regionalizations. We recovered 9 quantitative bioregionalization units (QBU) versus 6 to 8 descriptive bioregionalization units (DBU) proposed by previous authors. From this comparison, it was found that: (1) We discovered three new QBU not considered by any previous DBU; (2) Others three areas proposed by DBU are not supported by our Endemicity Analysis; (3) We detected differences comparing the representativeness of protected areas between descriptive versus quantitative bioregionalizations, leaving the former some areas of conservation relevance largely unprotected. Moreover, DBU were characterized by high degree of uncertainty and biases, such as the consideration of probably artificial units, the non-recognition of some natural units and mistakes in the representativeness of protected areas. We emphasize the importance of applying quantitative biogeographic methods to identify bioregionalization units and its fundamental role in conservation biogeography in order to optimize protected areas efficiency and other territorial conservation strategies.

SB16056  Accepted 29 May 2017

© CSIRO 2017