Dr Vanessa Adams1, Dr Rachael Gallagher2, Dr Nathalie Butt3
1University Of Tasmania, Sandy Bay, Australia,
2Macquarie University, North Ryde, Australia,
3University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
Representation and adequacy are core tenants of protected area design. However, their integration into the application of protected area design and placement have been based around rudimentary and untested assumptions. For example, coarse filter surrogates such as vegetation groups are often incorporated into protected area design assuming that protecting a representative range of vegetation achieves representation of species assemblages and ecological processes. Here, we test the conservation principle that protecting vegetation groups also protects species assemblages, functional groups of species, and thus ecological processes. To achieve this, we first developed a comprehensive set of plant species distributions and traits to allow us to compare representation of vegetation groups to individual species, species assemblages, and function trait groups. We then tested the extent to which species and assemblages have been retained in protected areas, or lost through clearing, and similarly, the extent to which functional groups have been retained in protected areas or lost through clearing. We demonstrate how an understanding of the biogeography of species is critical for both the design and testing of protected area principles.
Dr Vanessa Adams is a Senior Lecturer in Conservation and Planning at the University of Tasmania. She spent a year as a Fulbright scholar conducting research at the University of Queensland in 2004 and completed her PhD at James Cook University in 2011. Her research focuses on modelling dynamic social-ecological systems to inform conservation decisions that improve ecosystems and the communities they support. This means her research is broadly aligned with three themes: ecological modelling (to understand dynamic ecosystems), socio-economic aspects of conservation (to understand the human dimensions of social-ecological systems), and conservation decision theory (to inform decision making).