A review of selection-based tests of abiotic surrogates for species representation

Paul Beier, Patricia Sutcliffe, Jan Hjort, Daniel P. Faith, Robert L. Pressey, Fabio Suzart de Albuquerque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Because conservation planners typically lack data on where species occur, environmental surrogates-including geophysical settings and climate types-have been used to prioritize sites within a planning area. We reviewed 622 evaluations of the effectiveness of abiotic surrogates in representing species in 19 study areas. Sites selected using abiotic surrogates represented more species than an equal number of randomly selected sites in 43% of tests (55% for plants) and on average improved on random selection of sites by about 8% (21% for plants). Environmental diversity (ED) (42% median improvement on random selection) and biotically informed clusters showed promising results and merit additional testing. We suggest 4 ways to improve performance of abiotic surrogates. First, analysts should consider a broad spectrum of candidate variables to define surrogates, including rarely used variables related to geographic separation, distance from coast, hydrology, and within-site abiotic diversity. Second, abiotic surrogates should be defined at fine thematic resolution. Third, sites (the landscape units prioritized within a planning area) should be small enough to ensure that surrogates reflect species' environments and to produce prioritizations that match the spatial resolution of conservation decisions. Fourth, if species inventories are available for some planning units, planners should define surrogates based on the abiotic variables that most influence species turnover in the planning area. Although species inventories increase the cost of using abiotic surrogates, a modest number of inventories could provide the data needed to select variables and evaluate surrogates. Additional tests of nonclimate abiotic surrogates are needed to evaluate the utility of conserving nature's stage as a strategy for conservation planning in the face of climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)668-679
Number of pages12
JournalConservation Biology
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

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planning
Equipment and Supplies
species inventory
Hydrology
Climate Change
testing
Climate
prioritization
conservation planning
Costs and Cost Analysis
hydrology
turnover
spatial resolution
test
climate change
climate
coasts
coast
cost

Keywords

  • Conservation planning
  • Conserving nature's stage
  • Geodiversity
  • Incidental representation
  • Surrogacy tests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

A review of selection-based tests of abiotic surrogates for species representation. / Beier, Paul; Sutcliffe, Patricia; Hjort, Jan; Faith, Daniel P.; Pressey, Robert L.; Suzart de Albuquerque, Fabio.

In: Conservation Biology, Vol. 29, No. 3, 01.06.2015, p. 668-679.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Beier, Paul ; Sutcliffe, Patricia ; Hjort, Jan ; Faith, Daniel P. ; Pressey, Robert L. ; Suzart de Albuquerque, Fabio. / A review of selection-based tests of abiotic surrogates for species representation. In: Conservation Biology. 2015 ; Vol. 29, No. 3. pp. 668-679.
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