Optimizing the conservation of migratory species over their full annual cycle

Authors: Richard Schuster, Scott Wilson, Amanda D. Rodewald, Peter Arcese, Daniel Fink, Tom Auer & Joseph.R. Bennett

Publication: Nature Communications

Publication Link: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09723-8

Access: Open


Abstract: Limited knowledge of the distribution, abundance, and habitat associations of migratory species hinders effective conservation actions. We use Neotropical migratory birds as a model group to compare approaches to prioritize land conservation needed to support ≥30% of the global abundances of 117 species. Specifically, we compare scenarios from spatial optimization models to achieve conservation targets by: 1) area requirements for conserving >30% abundance of each species for each week of the year independently vs. combined; 2) including vs. ignoring spatial clustering of species abundance; and 3) incorporating vs. avoiding human-dominated landscapes. Solutions integrating information across the year require 56% less area than those integrating weekly abundances, with additional reductions when shared-use landscapes are included. Although incorporating spatial population structure requires more area, geographical representation among priority sites improves substantially. These findings illustrate that globally-sourced citizen science data can elucidate key trade-offs among opportunity costs and spatiotemporal representation of conservation efforts.

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