Using taxonomically unbiased criteria to prioritize resource allocation for oceanic island species conservation

Abstract

Oceanic islands have been the grand stage of documented extinctions. In view of limited resources, efficient prioritization is crucial to avoid the extinction of taxa. This work lists the top 100 management priority species for the European archipelagos of the Macaronesian region (Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands), taking into account both their protection priority and their management feasibility. Bryophytes, vascular plants, molluscs, arthropods and vertebrates were scored by species experts following two sets of criteria: (i) protection priority, including ecological value, singularity, public institutions’ management responsibilities and social value; (ii) management feasibility, including threats knowledge and control feasibility, external socio-economical support for management and biological recovery potential. Environmental managers weighted the same criteria according to their management importance. Final species scores were determined by the combination of both species valuation and criteria weighting. Vascular plants dominate the Top 100 list, followed by arthropods and vertebrates. The majority of listed taxa are endemic to one archipelago or even to a single island. The management feasibility criteria did not dictate that all taxa must be eminently endangered, as for most of the species it should be relatively easy to control threats. The main advantages of this process are the independent participation of scientists and conservation managers, the inclusion of criteria on both protection priority and management feasibility and the taxonomically unbiased nature of the process. This study provides a potentially useful biodiversity conservation tool for the Macaronesian archipelagos that could be readily implemented by the respective regional governments in future legislation.

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Acknowledgements

The generation of the Top 100 list was one of the objectives of the BIONATURA Interreg IIIB project, with the cooperation of ARENA (Azores), Direcção Regional do Ambiente (Madeira) and Dirección General del Medio Natural del Gobierno de Canarias. We are grateful to the following people: Gustavo Vieira, from MBA-consultores, who was the administrative coordinator of the three archipelagos’ associates and responsible for the Interreg secretariat. Sara Santos, who acted as liaison between the researchers of the University of the Azores and Direcção Regional do Ambiente e do Mar (Azores). Elizabeth Ojeda, María Nieves Zurita, Silvia Fajardo and Sofía Rodríguez, who helped in the organization of expert workshops and in finding information for Canary taxa. José Ramón Docoito and Beatriz Herrera, who were in charge of the travel logistics. Salvador de la Cruz, who coordinated the work of experts in the evaluation of target taxa in the Canary Islands. Julián Arechavaleta, who helped with the analyses and software tools. Environmental managers from several public or private institutions from the three archipelagos weighted the priority criteria: António Domingos Abreu, Ángel Bañares, Maria José Bettencourt, Maria Botelho, Miguel Ángel Cabrera, Ana Calero, Bárbara Chaves, José Alberto Delgado, Silvia Fajardo, Ángel Fernández, Manuel Filipe, Paulo Freitas, Mercedes González, María Ángeles Llaría, Nuno Loura, Manuel Martín, Elena Mateo, Félix Medina, João Melo, Dília Menezes, Duarte Nunes, Nuno Pacheco, Paulo Pimentel, Juan Carlos Rando, Pedro Raposo, Miguel Ángel Rodríguez and Rui Sequeira. The evaluators of target taxa, apart from this work’s authors, were: Aurelio Acevedo, Ana Cabrera, Eduardo Carqué, Salvador de la Cruz, Juan Domingo Delgado, José Ramón Docoito, Silvia Fajardo, Eduardo García del Rey, Heriberto López, Manuel Marrero, Katia Martín, José Antonio Mateo, Ricardo Mesa, Helena Morales, José Naranjo, Manuel Naranjo, Elizabeth Ojeda, Alfredo Reyes, María Leticia Rodríguez, Sofía Rodríguez, Rogelio Herrera, Arnoldo Santos and Stephan Scholz. Additionally, Guillermo Delgado and Juan Luis Rodríguez Luengo have participated in workshops for evaluating threatened species.

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Correspondence to Pedro Cardoso.

Appendix

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See Table 5

Table 5 Scores attributed by species experts to the 100 top priority taxa

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Martín, J.L., Cardoso, P., Arechavaleta, M. et al. Using taxonomically unbiased criteria to prioritize resource allocation for oceanic island species conservation. Biodivers Conserv 19, 1659–1682 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-010-9795-z

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Keywords

  • Azores
  • Biodiversity management
  • Canary Islands
  • Conservation priority
  • Macaronesia
  • Madeira
  • Ranking criteria
  • Risk assessment
  • Threatened species