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Using the Species-Area Relationship to Set Baseline Targets for Conservation

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Desmet, Philip; Cowling, Richard
Journal: Ecology and Society
Volume: 9
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/3044
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Region: Africa
Subject(s): conservation
land tenure and use
Abstract: "This paper demonstrates how the power form of the Species-Area Relationship (SAR) can be used to set conservation targets for land classes using biodiversity survey data. The log-transformation of the power model is a straight line; therefore, if one knows the average number of species recorded per survey site and can estimate the true species number present in the land class, using EstimateS software, it is possible to calculate the slope of the curve, or z-value. The z-value is the exponent in the power model and it can then be used to estimate the proportion of area required to represent a given proportion of species present in any land class. This application of the SAR is explored using phytosociological relev'e data from South Africa's Succulent Karoo biome. We also provide suggestions for extrapolating the estimated z-values to other land classes within a bioregion that lack sufficient survey data, using the relationship between z-values and remotely determined landscape variables such as habitat diversity (topographic diversity) and geographic location (latitude and longitude). The SAR predicts that for most Succulent Karoo vegetation types a conservation target of 10% of the land area would not be sufficient to conserve the majority of species. We also demonstrate that not all land classes are equal from a plant biodiversity perspective, so applying one target to all land classes in a region will lead to significant gaps and inefficiencies in any reserve network based on this universal target."

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