Biodiversity Conservation

Historical anthropogenic footprints in the distribution of threatened plants in China

In this study, for the first time, we linked the distribution of threatened species across China to current and historical changes in human population densities, cropland area, and pasture area since 1700 (at a 100 km × 100 km resolution). We find that variables describing historical changes in human impacts were consistently more strongly associated with proportions of threatened plants than variables describing current changes in human impacts. Notably, threatened plant species in China tend to be concentrated where historical anthropogenic impacts were relatively small, but anthropogenic activities have intensified relatively strongly since 1700.

A 2.5‐million‐year perspective on coarse‐filter strategies for conserving nature's stage

Paleoecology provides a valuable perspective on coarse‐filter strategies by marshaling the natural experiments of the past to contextualize extinction risk due to the emerging impacts of climate change and anthropogenic threats. We reviewed examples from the paleoecological record that highlight the strengths, opportunities, and caveats of a CNS approach. We focused on the near‐time geological past of the Quaternary, during which species were subjected to widespread changes in climate and concomitant changes in the physical environment in general.

Supporting underrepresented forests in Mesoamerica

We had three key findings. First, dry forest is the least protected biome in Mesoamerica (4.5% protected), indicating that further action to safeguard this biome is warranted. Secondly, the poor overlap between protected areas and high-value forest conservation areas found herein may provide evidence that the establishment of protected areas may not be fully accounting for tree priority rank map. Third, high percentages of forest cover and high-value forest conservation areas still need to be represented by the protected areas network. Because deforestation rates are still increasing in this region, Mesoamerica needs funding and coordinated action by policy makers, national and local governmental and non-governmental organizations, conservationists and other stakeholders.

Extreme habitat loss in a Mediterranean habitat: Maytenus senegalensis subsp. europaea

*Maytenus senegalensis* subsp. *europaea* communities are unique vegetal formations in Europe. In fact, they are considered Priority Habitat by Directive 92/43/EEC. These are ecologically valuable plant communities found in the southeast of Spain. By combining modeling methods of environmental variables, historical photo-interpretation, and fieldwork, a chronosequence of the evolution of their extent of occurrence (EOO) has been reconstructed in 1957 and 2011. Results showed a strong regression range of *Maytenus senegalensis* subsp. *europaea* populations. More than 26,000 ha of EOO for this species have been lost in the province of Almería. Considering the final number of polygons, this area has been fragmented 18 times since the 1950s. These results reinforce the idea that the alteration and fragmentation of habitat due to human activities is one of the most important drivers of biodiversity loss and global change. These activities are mostly intensive greenhouse agriculture and urbanization without sustainable land planning. Knowledge about the distribution of M. senegalensis subsp. europaea is of great interest for future habitat restoration. Therefore, this would be the key species to recover these damaged ecosystems.

Distribution and conservation of the relict interaction between the butterfly Agriades zullichi and its larval foodplant (Androsace vitaliana nevadensis)

Herein we investigate the distribution and conservation problems of a relict interaction in the Sierra Nevada mountains (southern Europe) between the butterfly *Agriades zullichi* —a rare and threatened butterfly— and its larval foodplant *Androsace vitaliana* subsp. *nevadensis*. We designed an intensive field survey to obtain a comprehensive presence dataset. This was used to calibrate species distribution models with absences taken at local and regional extents, analyze the potential distribution, evaluate the influence of environmental factors in different geographical contexts, and evaluate conservation threats for both organisms.

Comparing the performance of species distribution models of Zostera marina: Implications for conservation

A time series of 14-year distribution data of Zostera marina in the Ems estuary (The Netherlands) was used to build different data subsets: (1) total presence area; (2) a conservative estimate of the total presence area, defined as the area which had been occupied during at least 4 years; (3) core area, defined as the area which had been occupied during at least 2/3 of the total period; and (4–6) three random selections of monitoring years. On average, colonized and disappeared areas of the species in the Ems estuary showed remarkably similar transition probabilities of 12.7% and 12.9%, respectively. SDMs based upon machine-learning methods (Boosted Regression Trees and Random Forest) outperformed regression-based methods. Current velocity and wave exposure were the most important variables predicting the species presence for widely distributed data. Depth and sea floor slope were relevant to predict conservative presence area and core area.

European Bird distribution is “well” represented by Special Protected Areas: Mission accomplished?

Our assessments showed little association between bird richness patterns and the cover of protected areas (PAs) across EU countries. The congruence between high-value richness areas of all bird species and IBS with PAs cover was moderate, suggesting that different conservation planning targets should be taken into account to safeguard IBS, or the composition of bird species. Our results also showed that 16 (3.9%) threatened species were present in gaps of PAs. The poor relationship between PAs cover and bird richness pattern found herein may provide evidence that the establishment of SPAs across Europe may not be fully accounting for richness patterns to enhance the performance of the current network.

Habitat Fragmentation in Arid Zones: A Case Study of Linaria nigricans Under Land Use Changes (SE Spain)

The results indicate that greenhouses and construction activities (mainly for tourist purposes) exert a strong impact on the populations of this endangered species. The habitat depletion showed peaks that constitute the destruction of 85% of the initial area in only 20 years for some populations of L. nigricans. According to the forecast established by the model, a rapid extinction could take place and some populations may disappear as early as the year 2030. Fragmentation-cadence analysis can help identify population units of primary concern for its conservation, by means of the adoption of improved management and regulatory measures.

Conservation Status of the First Known Population of Polygala balansae in Europe

We studied the natural history as well as the conservation status of the first-known population of Polygala balansae in Europe (Granada, SE Spain). In the study area, we located only one population occupying a small patch of 1920 m2, between 120 and 160 m a.s.l., with 246 mature individuals. The species is classified as Critically Endangered (CR), under the following criteria: severely fragmented, inferred continuous decline, small population size, and continuing decline inferred from the number mature individuals.

Assessing extinction-risk of endangered plants using species distribution models: a case study of habitat depletion caused by the spread of greenhouses

In this paper, we propose the application of SDMs to assess the extinction-risk of plant species in relation to the spread of greenhouses in a Mediterranean landscape, where habitat depletion is one of the main causes of biodiversity loss.