, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 957-968
Date: 06 Nov 2008

Reserve selection and persistence: complementing the existing Atlantic Forest reserve system

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Abstract

This study is an exercise to check the efficiency of the existing reserve system, and to show how systematic conservation planning—using information available and the complementarity concept—can improve the basis for decisions and minimize costs. We verified the performance, in number of cells and primate species representation, of the existing Atlantic Forest (Brazil) reserve network with a quarter-degree resolution grid, with 1,884 cells. We used occurrence data of 20 endemic primate species, and the maps of 237 existing reserves. Reserve networks were selected to represent primate species first considering no pre-existing reserves in Atlantic Forest, and then, considering the existing reserve system, taking into account the minimum area for viable population of the larger species (Northern muriqui Brachyteles hypoxanthus). Reserve selection was carried out using the complementarity concept implemented by a simulated annealing algorithm. Primate species representation (at least one occurrence in the network) could be achieved with 8% of the existing reserve system (nine cells in relation to the 120 in the existing reserve system). We found that today’s reserve system represents 89% of endemic primate species, excluding the species Coimbra Filho’s titi monkey (Callicebus coimbrai) and Marcgraf’s capuchin (Cebus flavius). The networks selected without considering existing reserves contained nine cells. The networks selected considering existing reserves (120 cells), had two new cells necessary to represent all the primates. This does not mean that a viable alternative is to start from zero (i.e., nonexistent reserves). Identifying critical supplementary areas using biodiversity information to fill the gaps and then starting “conservation in practice” in these areas should be priorities.