A major challenge for biogeographers and conservation planners is to identify where to best locate or distribute high-priority areas for conservation and to explore whether these areas are well represented by conservation actions such as protected areas (PAs). We aimed to identify high-priority areas for conservation, expressed as hotpots of rarity-weighted richness (HRR)-sites that efficiently represent species-for birds across EU countries, and to explore whether HRR are well represented by the Natura 2000 network. Natura 2000 is an evolving network of PAs that seeks to conserve biodiversity through the persistence of the most patrimonial species and habitats across Europe. This network includes Sites of Community Importance (SCI) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), where the latter regulated the designation of Special Protected Areas (SPA). Distribution maps for 416 bird species and complementarity-based approaches were used to map geographical patterns of rarity-weighted richness (RWR) and HRR for birds. We used species accumulation index to evaluate whether RWR was efficient surrogates to identify HRRs for birds. The results of our analysis support the proposition that prioritizing sites in order of RWR is a reliable way to identify sites that efficiently represent birds. HRRs were concentrated in the Mediterranean Basin and alpine and boreal biogeographical regions of northern Europe. The cells with high RWR values did not correspond to cells where Natura 2000 was present. We suggest that patterns of RWR could become a focus for conservation biogeography. Our analysis demonstrates that identifying HRR is a robust approach for prioritizing management actions, and reveals the need for more conservation actions, especially on HRR.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Agricultural and Biological Sciences