Assessing regional variation in conservation value using fine-grained bird atlases
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In this study we developed a simple quantitative method to assist in the decision making process of the landscape planning by integrating information of species occurrence and their individual IUCN extinction risks. We applied this method in Catalonia (north-east Iberian Peninsula) using bird atlas data to create an Index of Cumulative Threat Status (ICUTS). We employed a heuristic approach derived from qualitative scores provided by 10 experts on the avifauna of the region to choose the final index among a group of candidates. This index was used to generate two maps of conservation value at 10 × 10 km resolution, one comprising all breeding bird species in the study region (219 species), and a second one with only those bird species for which fine-grained maps (500 × 500 m) were also available (182 species). In spite of the difference in the number of species included in the two 10 × 10 km maps, we found similar geographical patterns and therefore we considered that the pattern shown by the second group of species (at 500 × 500 m resolution) represented a good proxy of the whole breeding avifauna for landscape planning purposes. The approach developed in this study may be particularly helpful in landscape planning outside protected areas because of its spatial continuity, fine-grained resolution and easy interpretation.
KeywordsBird atlas Fine-grained maps Landscape planning Off-reserve conservation Threat status
The conceptual basis of this article was promoted by the Barcelona provincial council in the framework of the SITxell project. We greatly thank the support given by Carles Castell and his collaborators from the very beginning of the project. This approach would have not been possible without the efforts of our colleagues Joan Estrada and Vittorio Pedrocchi on the Catalan Breeding Bird Atlas 1999–2002. The Government of Catalonia and the private foundation Obra Social Caixa Catalunya provided financial support for this Atlas. We thank the contribution of the experts that helped to calibrate the ICUTS at its best: Pere Aymerich, Raül Aymí, Gerard Bota, Jordi Camprodon, Diego Garcia, Gabriel Gargallo, Santi Mañosa, Albert Martínez and Jaume Orta. We also thank two anonymous referees who provided interesting comments on previous drafts of the manuscript and Marc Anton for his support in the data management. Finally, we would like to express our warmest thank to the more than 500 field volunteers who collaborated in the first atlas project of the Catalan Ornithological Institute. This work was included in the project CGL2009-08798/BOS, granted by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, and was conducted by the Research Group 2009 SGR 1467, by the Catalan Government.
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