Identifying spatial components of ecological and evolutionary processes for regional conservation planning in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa

Rouget, Mathieu, Cowling, Richard M., Pressey, Robert L., and Richardson, David M. (2003) Identifying spatial components of ecological and evolutionary processes for regional conservation planning in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. Diversity and Distributions, 9 (3). pp. 191-210.

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Abstract

Conservation seeks ultimately to protect and maintain biodiversity indefinitely. Most biodiversity features targeted in past conservation planning have been largely aspects of ecological and biogeographical pattern rather than process. However, the persistence of biodiversity can only be ensured through consideration of the ecological and evolutionary processes that underpin biodiversity, as well as its present spatial pattern. This paper identifies spatial surrogates of ecological and evolutionary processes for regional conservation planning in one of the world's biodiversity hotspots, the Cape Floristic Region. We identified six types of spatial components (namely edaphic interfaces, upland-lowland interfaces, sand movement corridors, riverine corridors, upland-lowland gradients and macroclimatic gradients) as surrogates for key processes such as ecological and geographical diversification, and species migration. Spatial components were identified in a GIS using published data and expert knowledge. Options for achieving targets for process components have been seriously compromised by habitat transformation. Between 30 and 75% of the original extent of the spatial components currently remain functional. Options for achieving upland-lowland and macroclimatic gradients are very limited in the lowlands where most of the habitat has been transformed by agriculture. We recommend that future studies place their research on ecological and evolutionary processes in a spatially explicit framework. Areas maintaining adaptive diversification (e.g. environmental gradients, ecotones) or containing historically isolated populations should be identified and protected. The spatial dimensions of eco-logical processes such as drought and fire refugia also need to be determined and such insights incorporated in conservation planning. Finally, connectivity within these areas should be ensured to maintain species migration and gene flow.

Item ID: 9847
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: biodiversity hotspot; biodiversity; conservation; fynbos; karoo; plant and animal diversification; species persistence
ISSN: 1472-4642
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2010 04:53
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060207 Population Ecology @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960605 Institutional Arrangements for Environmental Protection @ 100%
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