Improving the design of a conservation reserve for a Critically Endangered species

Date: 31, Dec, 2016
Author(s):   Taylor C, Cadenhead N, Lindenmayer DB, Wintle BA
Publisher: Plos One

Setting aside protected areas is a key strategy for tackling biodiversity loss. Reserve effectiveness depends on the extent to which protected areas capture both known occurrences and areas likely to support the species. We assessed the effectiveness of the existing reserve network for Leadbeater’s possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) and other forest-dependent species, and compared the existing reserve system to a set of plausible reserve expansion options based on area targets implied in a recent Population Viability Analysis (PVA). The existing Leadbeater’s Reserve and surrounding reserve system captured 7.6% and 29.6% of cumulative habitat suitability, respectively, across the landscape. Expanded reserve scenarios captured 34% to 62% of cumulative habitat suitability. We found acute trade-offs between conserving Leadbeater’s possum habitat and conserving habitat of other forest-dependent species. Our analysis provides a template for systematically expanding and evaluating reserve expansion options in terms of trade-offs between priority species’ needs.