Combining modeling tools to identify conservation priority areas: A case study of the last large-bodied avian frugivore in the Atlantic Forest

Fernando C.G. Bonfim, Paulo H.C. Cordeiro, Carlos A. Peres, Gustavo R. Canale, Christine S.S. Bernardo

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Abstract

Applicability of modeling tools to tackle conservation problems is key for conservation planning. However, modeling papers regarding real-world conservation issues are scarce. Here, we combined two modeling tools to identify priority areas in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, focusing on the last large-bodied frugivorous bird in the region, the red-billed curassow (Crax blumenbachii). We used population viability analysis (PVA) to determine (1) the minimum viable population size under different hunting scenarios; and (2) the minimum critical forest patch size required to maintain viable populations. We used ecological niche modeling (ENM) to identify remnants that retain suitable environmental conditions to ensure the long-term persistence of this species. We overlapped the outputs from PVA and ENM models to identify priority areas for curassows. Under our best-case scenario, 56 individuals would suffice to maintain a viable population and 71 forest patches located within the species' known range are above the critical size of 3141 ha. In the worst-case scenario, at least 138 individuals would be required to maintain a viable population in forest patches larger than 9500 ha, corresponding to only 20 Atlantic Forest fragments within the species range. Among these, 17 presented median habitat suitability values higher than 0.70, eight of which were selected as priority areas for law enforcement and nine as priority areas for reintroduction. We encourage conservation biologists and land managers to combine modeling tools which can be guided by our conservation planning framework. This approach is promising to inform long-term conservation planning of a flagship species and its entire ecosystem.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00426
JournalGlobal Ecology and Conservation
Volume17
Early online date16 Sep 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

Keywords

  • Conservation planning
  • Cracidae
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Hunting
  • Population viability
  • Ecological niche modeling

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