Original Paper

Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 20, Issue 14, pp 3363-3383

First online:

Designing criteria suites to identify discrete and networked sites of high value across manifestations of biodiversity

  • Eric GilmanAffiliated withCollege of Natural and Computational Sciences, Hawaii Pacific University Email author 
  • , Daniel DunnAffiliated withMarine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Duke University
  • , Andrew ReadAffiliated withDuke Center for Marine Conservation, Duke University
  • , K. David HyrenbachAffiliated withMarine Science Program, Hawaii Pacific University
  • , Robin WarnerAffiliated withAustralian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, University of Wollongong

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Suites of criteria specifying ecological, biological, social, economic, and governance properties enable the systematic identification of sites and networks of high biodiversity value, and can support balancing ecological and socioeconomic objectives of biodiversity conservation in terrestrial and marine spatial planning. We describe designs of suites of ecological, governance and socioeconomic criteria to comprehensively cover manifestations of biodiversity, from genotypes to biomes; compensate for taxonomic and spatial gaps in available datasets; balance biases resulting from conventionally-employed narrow criteria suites focusing on rare, endemic and threatened species; plan for climate change effects on biodiversity; and optimize the ecological and administrative networking of sites. Representativeness, replication, ecological connectivity, size, and refugia are identified as minimum ecological properties of site networks. Through inclusion of a criterion for phylogenetic distinctiveness, criteria suites identify sites important for maintaining evolutionary processes. Criteria for focal species are needed to overcome data gaps and address limitations in knowledge of factors responsible for maintaining ecosystem integrity.


Biodiversity Criteria Data quality Protected area Reserve Site network Spatial planning Systematic conservation planning