Priority areas for amphibian conservation in a neotropical megadiverse country: the need for alternative, non place based, conservation

  • Dirk EmbertEmail author
  • Steffen Reichle
  • Daniel M. Larrea-Alcázar
  • Claudia Cortez
  • Arturo Muñoz
  • Lucindo Gonzales
  • Rossy Montaño
  • Rodrigo Aguayo
  • Enrique Domic
  • José M. Padial
  • Mayra Maldonado
  • Patricia Caballero
  • Marcelo Guerrero
Original Paper


Amphibians constitute one of the most threatened species group worldwide. Because they are affected by various threats such as habitat destruction, chytrid fungus, climate change, invasive species and human use, different approaches are needed for their conservation. In this paper we examine patterns of alpha diversity, endemism and threatened species distributions of amphibians in Bolivia. We modeled distribution data using ecological niche modeling implemented with MaxEnt (Maximum Entropy Modeling). In contrast with previous studies, we validated each individual map with specialists. Important areas for amphibian conservation were defined by overlapping species richness, endemism richness and concentration of threatened species, and then excluding all unsuitable habitats. Our goal was to identify high-priority sites for the conservation of amphibians in Bolivia. We discuss a place-based strategy (identification of priority areas) and the need for further non place-based strategies. We highlight the importance of strengthening two existing protected areas that together host up to 40% of Bolivia’s threatened amphibian species, and we propose alternative strategies such as ex situ conservation for those species not covered by the priority areas. Bolivia’s General Directorate for Biodiversity and Protected Areas (in Spanish, Dirección General de Biodiversidad y Áreas Protegidas (DGBAP)) and Bolivian experts are jointly using the here presented results to define a national strategy of amphibian conservation for safeguarding this important element of Bolivia’s biodiversity.


Amphibians Bolivia Endemism richness Ex situ conservation Habitat destruction Non place-based Place based 



Area under curve


Complexes of ecological systems


Digital elevation model


General Directorate for Biodiversity and Protected Areas


Departmental Park


Genetic Algorithm for Rule Set Production


International Union for Conservation of Nature


National Park


Receiver operating characteristic


Status of conservation of habitat



The project was supported by funds provided by The Embassy of Netherlands to the Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza (FAN, Project: Identifying centers of species richness, rarity and endemism of Bolivia). JM Padial was funded by the EU Marie Curie Mobility and Training Program (FP7, proposal 220714). We thank Humberto Gomez, Denisse Quiroga and Boris Rios for their valuable comments and technical assistance during the whole project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk Embert
    • 1
    Email author
  • Steffen Reichle
    • 2
  • Daniel M. Larrea-Alcázar
    • 3
  • Claudia Cortez
    • 4
  • Arturo Muñoz
    • 5
  • Lucindo Gonzales
    • 6
  • Rossy Montaño
    • 6
  • Rodrigo Aguayo
    • 7
  • Enrique Domic
    • 4
  • José M. Padial
    • 8
  • Mayra Maldonado
    • 6
  • Patricia Caballero
    • 3
  • Marcelo Guerrero
    • 9
  1. 1.The Nature ConservancyBonnGermany
  2. 2.The Nature ConservancyBonnGermany
  3. 3.Departamento de CienciasFundación Amigos de la Naturaleza (FAN)Santa Cruz de la SierraBolivia
  4. 4.University Mayor de San AndrésLa PazBolivia
  5. 5.Natural History Museum Alcide D’OrbignyiCochabambaBolivia
  6. 6.Natural History Museum Noel Kempff MercadoSanta CruzBolivia
  7. 7.Center for Biodiversity and GeneticsCochabambaBolivia
  8. 8.Department of Evolutionary Biology, Evolutionary Biology CentreUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  9. 9.Center for Investigation PandoCobijaBolivia

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