Setting practical conservation priorities for birds in the Western Andes of Colombia.

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2014-10

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Abstract

We aspired to set conservation priorities in ways that lead to direct conservation actions. Very large-scale strategic mapping leads to familiar conservation priorities exemplified by biodiversity hotspots. In contrast, tactical conservation actions unfold on much smaller geographical extents and they need to reflect the habitat loss and fragmentation that have sharply restricted where species now live. Our aspirations for direct, practical actions were demanding. First, we identified the global, strategic conservation priorities and then downscaled to practical local actions within the selected priorities. In doing this, we recognized the limitations of incomplete information. We started such a process in Colombia and used the results presented here to implement reforestation of degraded land to prevent the isolation of a large area of cloud forest. We used existing range maps of 171 bird species to identify priority conservation areas that would conserve the greatest number of species at risk in Colombia. By at risk species, we mean those that are endemic and have small ranges. The Western Andes had the highest concentrations of such species-100 in total-but the lowest densities of national parks. We then adjusted the priorities for this region by refining these species ranges by selecting only areas of suitable elevation and remaining habitat. The estimated ranges of these species shrank by 18-100% after accounting for habitat and suitable elevation. Setting conservation priorities on the basis of currently available range maps excluded priority areas in the Western Andes and, by extension, likely elsewhere and for other taxa. By incorporating detailed maps of remaining natural habitats, we made practical recommendations for conservation actions. One recommendation was to restore forest connections to a patch of cloud forest about to become isolated from the main Andes.

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10.1111/cobi.12312

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Ocampo-Peñuela, Natalia, and Stuart L Pimm (2014). Setting practical conservation priorities for birds in the Western Andes of Colombia. Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, 28(5). pp. 1260–1270. 10.1111/cobi.12312 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/23554.

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Pimm

Stuart L. Pimm

Doris Duke Distinguished Professor of Conservation Ecology in the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences

Stuart Pimm is a world leader in the study of present-day extinctions and what can be done to prevent them. His research covers the reasons why species become extinct, how fast they do so, the global patterns of habitat loss and species extinction and, importantly, the management consequences of this research. Pimm received his BSc degree from Oxford University in 1971 and his Ph.D. from New Mexico State University in 1974. Pimm is the author of over 350 scientific papers and five books. He is one of the most highly cited environmental scientists. Pimm wrote the highly acclaimed assessment of the human impact to the planet: The World According to Pimm: a Scientist Audits the Earth in 2001. His commitment to the interface between science and policy has led to his testimony to both House and Senate Committees on the re-authorization of the Endangered Species Act. He was worked and taught in Africa for nearly 30 years on elephants, most recently lions — through National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative — but always on topics that relate to the conservation of wildlife and the ecosystems on which they depend. Other research areas include the Everglades of Florida and tropical forests in South America, especially the Atlantic Coast forest of Brazil and the northern Andes — two of the world's "hotspots" for threatened species. His international honours include the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (2010), the Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (2006), the Society for Conservation Biology’s Edward T. LaRoe III Memorial Award (2006), and the Marsh Award for Conservation Biology, from the Marsh Christian Trust (awarded by the Zoological Society of London in 2004). Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, awarded him the William Proctor Prize for Scientific Achievement in 2007. In 2019, he won the International Cosmos Prize, which recognised his founding and directing Saving Nature, www.savingnature.org, a non-profit that uses donations for carbon emissions offsets to fund local conservation groups in areas of exceptional tropical biodiversity to restore their degraded lands. 


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