DOI: 10.1101/456558Oct 30, 2018Paper

Nature representativeness in South American protected areas: Country contrasts and conservation priorities

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Germán BaldiEsteban G Jobbágy


Background: South America faces strong environmental transformations due to agriculture and infrastructure expansion and due to demographic growth, demanding immediate action to preserve natural assets by means of the deployment of protected areas. Currently, 7.1% of the (sub)continent is under strict conservation categories (I to IV, IUCN), but the spatial distribution of these 1.3 x 106 km2 is poorly understood. We evaluate protected area representativeness, map conservation priorities and assess demographic, productive or geopolitical causes of the existing protection spatial patterns using a random forest method. Methods: We characterized representativeness by two dimensions: the extent and the equality of protection. The first refers to the fraction of a territory under protection, while the second refers to the spatial distribution of this protection along natural conditions. We characterized natural conditions by 113 biogeographical units (specifically, ecoregions) and a series of limited and significant climatic, topographic and edaphic traits. We analyzed representativeness every ten years since 1960 at national and continental levels. In the physical approach, histograms allowed us to map the degree of conservation pr...Continue Reading

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