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Ecological Applications

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Fishes -- Conservation -- Colorado River Watershed (Colo.-Mexico), Biodiversity -- Climatic factors, Freshwater fishes -- Conservation


To date, the predominant use of systematic conservation planning has been to evaluate and conserve areas of high terrestrial biodiversity. Although studies in freshwater ecosystems have received recent attention, research has rarely considered the potential trade-offs between protecting different dimensions of biodiversity and the ecological processes that maintain diversity. We provide the first systematic prioritization for freshwaters (focusing on the highly threatened and globally distinct fish fauna of the Lower Colorado River Basin, USA) simultaneously considering scenarios of: taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diversity; contemporary threats to biodiversity (including interactions with nonnative species); and future climate change and human population growth. There was 75% congruence between areas of highest conservation priority for different aspects of biodiversity, suggesting that conservation efforts can concurrently achieve strong complementarity among all types of diversity. However, sizable fractions of the landscape were incongruent across conservation priorities for different diversity scenarios, underscoring the importance of considering multiple dimensions of biodiversity and highlighting catchments that contribute disproportionately to taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diversity in the region. Regions of projected human population growth were not concordant with conservation priorities; however, higher human population abundance will likely have indirect effects on native biodiversity by increasing demand for water. This will come in direct conflict with projected reductions in precipitation and warmer temperatures, which have substantial overlap with regions of high contemporary diversity. Native and endemic fishes in arid ecosystems are critically endangered by both current and future threats, but our results highlight the use of systematic conservation planning for the optimal allocation of limited resources that incorporates multiple and complementary conservation values describing taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diversity.


Copyright by the Ecological Society of America. Reproduced with permissions.


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