Conservation Models

The maps generated from habitat models have been used extensively in conservation efforts aimed at identifying areas of priority conservation concern (conservation models). These approaches weigh the value of sites for potential protection based on criteria ranging from preservation of species rarity and richness (e.g., biodiversity hot spots) to reduction ofthreats and economic costs. The end goal is the selection of a network or portfolio of reserve sites, which form a system of complementary and interrelated protected areas. Considerable effort has been spent in the past several decades debating the merits of various reserve selection algorithms (e.g., heuristic vs. optimal). Gap analysis has emerged as a useful and widely adopted approach to identifying gaps in biodiversity protection by finding species that are not represented in existing reserve portfolios. All such methods require detailed knowledge of species spatial distributions, which are frequently not available from observational data. Efforts to model species occurrences will continue to play a central role in conservation planning.

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