A quantitative analysis on the effects of critical factors limiting the effectiveness of species conservation in future time

Diogo Alagador, Jorge Orestes Cerdeira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The effectiveness of conservation plans depends on environmental, ecological, and socioeconomic factors. Global change makes conservation decisions even more challenging. Among others, the components of most concern in modern-day conservation assessments are as follows: the magnitude of climate and land-use changes; species dispersal abilities; competition with harmful socioeconomic activities for land use; the number of threatened species to consider; and, relatedly, the available budget to act. Here, we provide a unified framework that quantifies the relative effects of those factors on conservation. We conducted an area-scheduling work plan in order to identify sets of areas along time in which the persistence expectancies of species are optimized. The approach was illustrated using data of potential distribution of ten nonvolant mammal species in Iberia Peninsula from current time up to 2080. Analyses were conducted considering possible setups among the factors that are likely to critically impact conservation success: three climate/land-use scenarios; four species' dispersal kernel curves; six land-use layer types; and two planning designs, in which assessments were made independently for each species, or joining all species in a single plan. We identified areas for an array of investments levels capable to circumvent the spatial conflicts with socioeconomic activities. The effect of each factor on the estimated species persistence scores was assessed using linear mixed models. Our results evidence that conservation success is highly reliant on the resources available to abate land-use conflicts. Nonetheless, under the same investment levels, planning design and climate change were the factors that most shaped species persistence scores. The persistence of five species was especially affected by the sole effect of planning design and consequently, larger conservation investments may retard climatic debts. For three species, the negative effects of a changing climate and of multiple-species planning designs added up, making these species especially at risk. Integrated assessments of the factors most likely to limit species persistence are pivotal to achieve effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3457-3467
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Climate change
  • Conservation planning
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Optimization
  • Resource allocation
  • Species distribution


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