Prioritizing protected areas in Madagascar for lemur diversity using a multidimensional perspective

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Biodiversity is affected by anthropogenic activities, with a trend of decreasing species richness with habitat degradation. Decreasing species richness erodes evolutionary history and ecosystem function, but taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity can have contrasting patterns. It is essential to measure these dimensions of biodiversity explicitly and assess how they are valued in prioritizing protected areas (PAs) to conserve diversity. Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot, with high diversity and endemism coupled with heavy anthropogenic pressure. The endemic primates – lemurs – are the most endangered mammal taxon. A recent action plan prioritized PAs based on lemur species richness, weighted by endangerment. This scheme does not capture the evolutionary, functional, or biogeographic components of biodiversity, nor does it directly assess the level of human threat to those PAs. I compiled the largest dataset on lemur community composition in 100 PAs, including almost all lemur species (98 species). I combined data on lemur occurrence, their phylogeny, functional traits, IUCN Red List status, and environmental variables including deforestation between the years 2000 and 2014. I ranked PAs based on 14 metrics as well as the sum of metrics to determine how PA priorities compare under different valuation schemes. Based on the sum of seven metrics, I identified the top 25 PAs for lemur conservation. With these priority rankings, I propose areas of high lemur diversity, habitat heterogeneity and productivity, and deforestation be the focus of future conservation activities to maximize community resilience and prevent the erosion of evolutionary diversity and ecosystem function.






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Herrera, JP (2017). Prioritizing protected areas in Madagascar for lemur diversity using a multidimensional perspective. Biological Conservation, 207. pp. 1–8. 10.1016/j.biocon.2016.12.028 Retrieved from

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