Skip to main content

Conservation planning and viability: problems associated with identifying priority sites in Swaziland using species list data

Smith, Robert J., Monadjem, Ara, Magagula, Cebisile N., Mahlaba, Themba A. M. (2010) Conservation planning and viability: problems associated with identifying priority sites in Swaziland using species list data. African Journal of Ecology, 48 (3). pp. 709-717. ISSN 0141-6707. (doi:10.1111/j.1365-2028.2009.01168.x) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)
Official URL


Conservation planning assessments based on species atlas data are known to select planning units containing ecotones because these areas are relatively species-rich. However, this richness is often dependent on the presence of adjoining core habitat, so populations within these ecotones might not be viable. This suggests that atlas data may also fail to distinguish between planning units that are highly transformed by agriculture or urbanization with those from neighbouring untransformed units. These highly transformed units could also be identified as priority sites, based solely on the presence of species that require adjoining habitat patches to persist. This potential problem was investigated using bird and mammal atlas data from Swaziland and a landcover map and found that: (i) there was no correlation between planning unit species richness and proportion of natural landcover for both taxa; (ii) the priority areas that were identified for both birds and mammals were no less transformed than if the units had been chosen at random and (iii) an approach that aimed to meet conservation targets and minimize transformation levels failed to identify more viable priority areas. This third result probably arose because 4.8% of the bird species and 22% of the mammal species were recorded in only one planning unit, reducing the opportunity to choose between units when aiming to represent each species. Therefore, it is suggested that using species lists to design protected area networks at a fine spatial scale may not conserve species effectively unless population viability data are explicitly included in the analysis.Resume On sait que les evaluations de planifications de la conservation qui se basent sur les donnees d'atlas des especes choisissent des unites de planification qui contiennent des ecotones parce que ces zones sont relativement riches en especes. Cependant, cette richesse depend souvent de la presence proche d'un habitat principal, de sorte que les populations de ces ecotones pourraient en fait ne pas etre viables. Cela signifie que les donnees des atlas pourraient aussi ne pas faire la distinction entre les unites de planification qui sont fortement modifiees par l'agriculture ou l'urbanization et celles, voisines, qui ne sont pas modifiees. Des unites profondement modifiees pourraient aussi etre identifiees comme sites prioritaires, si l'on se base seulement sur la presence d'especes qui ont besoin des ilots d'habitats voisins pour subsister. Ce probleme potentiel fut etudie en utilisant les donnees d'atlas sur des oiseaux et des mammiferes du Swaziland et une carte de la couverture du terrain, et on a decouvert que (i) il n'y avait pas de correlation entre la richesse en especes des unites de planification et la proportion de couverture naturelle pour les deux taxons; (ii) les zones prioritaires qui avaient ete identifiees pour les oiseaux et pour les mammiferes n'etaient pas moins transformees que si les unites avaient ete choisies au hasard et (iii) une approche qui visait a atteindre des cibles de conservation et a minimizer le taux de transformation n'avait pas reussi a identifier les zones prioritaires les plus viables. Ce troisieme resultat vient peut-etre du fait que 4.8% des especes d'oiseaux et 22% des especes de mammiferes avaient ete rapportes pour une seule unite de planification, ce qui a reduit la possibilite de choisir entre les unites lorsque l'on a cherchea representer chaque espece. C'est pourquoi on attire l'attention sur le fait que l'utilization des listes d'especes pour concevoir les reseaux d'AP a petite echelle spatiale risque de ne pas preserver efficacement les especes a moins que les donnees sur la viabilite de leur population ne soient explicitement incluses dans l'analyzse.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/j.1365-2028.2009.01168.x
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Bob Smith
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2011 15:14 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2019 10:34 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Smith, Robert J.:
  • Depositors only (login required):