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Are species listed in the Annex II of the Habitats Directive better represented in Natura 2000 network than the remaining species? A test using Spanish bats

Abstract

One of the main aims of protected areas is to be effective in the conservation of target species, i.e. those of the highest conservation concern. The Natura 2000 network (N2000) of protected areas is the main pillar of European action to halt biodiversity loss. Within N2000, special areas of conservation (SACs) are designated to protect habitats and species of the highest conservation interest, i.e. habitats from Annex I and species (other than birds) listed in Annex II of the Habitat Directive. Thus, a critical and urgent task is to assess the effectiveness of N2000 in the protection of these species. Here, we used distribution data for Spanish bats to test whether the species included in Annex II are better represented in N2000 than the remaining bats found in Spain, since SAC sites were specifically designated to protect the former species. In general, we found significantly high overlapping values between species distribution and N2000 sites (both groups of species are in general over-represented in N2000). However, contrary to our expectations, N2000 (even when only SACs were considered) did not offer higher representation values for the species listed in Annex II than for other species. We found that N2000 performed well even for non-target species, and that species from Annex II could have acted as effective umbrella species for the remaining bat species. Finally, the usefulness of including a species in Annex II is discussed, and guidelines to improve the efficiency of the N2000 for bat conservation are offered.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful for the important contributions of bat workers and SECEMU members to the development of the distribution of bat fauna of Spain. We are also grateful for the support and the comments of the people of “Ecosistemas Mediterráneos” and “Ecología Acuática” research groups (University of Murcia), especially Félix Picazo. We thank Philip Thomas and Ángeles Haz for correcting the English. The first version of the manuscript was considerably improved by the comments of anonymous reviewers and the editors. D. S.-F. was supported by a postdoctoral Grant (Juan de La Cierva programme) from Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

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Correspondence to Fulgencio Lisón.

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Communicated by Danna J. Leaman.

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Lisón, F., Sánchez-Fernández, D. & Calvo, J.F. Are species listed in the Annex II of the Habitats Directive better represented in Natura 2000 network than the remaining species? A test using Spanish bats. Biodivers Conserv 24, 2459–2473 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-015-0937-1

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Keywords

  • Chiroptera
  • Protected areas
  • Management police
  • Special areas of conservation
  • Special protection areas
  • Umbrella species