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Assessing the efficacy of protected and multiple-use lands for bird conservation in the U.S.

September 30, 2020

Setting land aside has long been a primary approach for protecting biodiversity; however, the efficacy of this approach has been questioned. We examined whether protecting lands positively influences bird species in the U.S., and thus overall biodiversity. We used the North American Breeding Bird Survey and Protected Areas Database of the U.S. to assess effects of protected and multiple-use lands on the prevalence and long-term population trends of imperiled and non-imperiled bird species. We evaluated whether both presence and proportional area of protected and multiple-use lands surrounding survey routes affected prevalence and population trends for imperiled and non-imperiled species. Regarding presence of these lands surrounding these survey routes, our results suggest that imperiled and non-imperiled species are using the combination of protected and multiple-use lands more than undesignated lands. We found no difference between protected and multiple-use lands. Mean population trends were negative for imperiled species in all land categories and did not differ between the land categories. Regarding proportion of protected lands surrounding the survey routes, we found that neither the prevalence nor population trends of imperiled or non-imperiled species was positively associated with any land category. We conclude that, although many species (in both groups) tend to be using these protected and multiple-use lands more frequently than undesignated lands, this protection does not appear to improve population trends. Our results may be influenced by external pressures (e.g., habitat fragmentation), the size of protected lands, the high mobility of birds that allows them to use a combination of all land categories, and management strategies that result in similar habitat between protected and multiple-use lands, or our approach to detect limited relationships. Overall, our results suggest that the combination of protected and multiple-use lands is insufficient, alone, to prevent declines in avian biodiversity at a national scale.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Assessing the efficacy of protected and multiple-use lands for bird conservation in the U.S.
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0239184
Authors L. Lynnette Dornak, Jocelyn L. Aycrigg, John R. Sauer, Courtney J. Conway
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title PLoS ONE
Series Number
Index ID 70227669
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle

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