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The effectiveness of surrogate taxa to conserve freshwater biodiversity

November 7, 2017

Establishing protected areas has long been an effective conservation strategy, and is often based on more readily surveyed species. The potential of any freshwater taxa to be a surrogate of other aquatic groups has not been fully explored. We compiled occurrence data on 72 species of freshwater fish, amphibians, mussels, and aquatic reptiles for the Great Plains, Wyoming. We used hierarchical Bayesian multi-species mixture models and MaxEnt models to describe species distributions, and program Zonation to identify conservation priority areas for each aquatic group. The landscape-scale factors that best characterized aquatic species distributions differed among groups. There was low agreement and congruence among taxa-specific conservation priorities (<20%), meaning that no surrogate priority areas would include or protect the best habitats of other aquatic taxa. We found that common, wide-ranging aquatic species were included in taxa-specific priority areas, but rare freshwater species were not included. Thus, the development of conservation priorities based on a single freshwater aquatic group would not protect all species in the other aquatic groups.

Publication Year 2018
Title The effectiveness of surrogate taxa to conserve freshwater biodiversity
DOI 10.1111/cobi.12967
Authors David R. Stewart, Zachary E. Underwood, Frank J. Rahel, Annika W. Walters
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Conservation Biology
Index ID 70192975
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle