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    Author(s): Matthew S. Dietz; R. Travis Belote; Josh Gage; Beth A. Hahn
    Date: 2020
    Source: Biological Conservation. 248: 108646.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (2.0 MB)

    Description

    Although they are the foundations of most efforts to conserve biodiversity, protected areas in the United States have, historically, not always been located in the most important areas to accomplish this goal. We investigated the overlap between suitable habitat for wildlife species of conservation concern and the location of public and private highly protected areas to assess the degree to which current highly protected areas are providing fine-scale habitat for wildlife species of conservation concern, to explore the relationship between the size of total suitable habitat of a species and its vulnerability to extinction, and to identify the species that are poorly represented in highly protected areas and determine where their habitats overlap - i.e., where future protected areas may best be located. We found that nearly one third of terrestrial wildlife species in the contiguous U.S. are vulnerable to extinction and that even though there is a relationship between total suitable habitat area and vulnerability, we find that synthetic indices of endemism and rarity-weighted richness are not necessarily good indicators of whether a species will be of conservation concern. Of all 537 wildlife species of conservation concern, only 62 (11%) are well represented in highly protected areas. To increase representation of habitats of wildlife species of conservation concern, scientists and managers should look to preserve lands where there is the greatest overlap among habitats for species of concern that are currently poorly represented in the reserve system, with special focus on species with small ranges on public lands.

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    Citation

    Dietz, Matthew S.; Belote, R. Travis; Gage, Josh; Hahn, Beth A. 2020. An assessment of vulnerable wildlife, their habitats, and protected areas in the contiguous United States. Biological Conservation. 248: 108646.

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    Keywords

    protected area, habitat, wildlife, terrestrial vertebrate, biodiversity, conservation

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