Conservation networks do not match the ecological requirements of amphibians

10.24072/pcjournal.290 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 3 (2023), article no. e58.

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  • Amphibians are among the most threatened taxa as they are highly sensitive to habitat degradation and fragmentation. They are considered as model species to evaluate habitats quality in agricultural landscapes. In France, all amphibian species have a protected status requiring recovery plans for their conservation. Conservation networks combining protected areas and green infrastructure can help the maintenance of their habitats while favouring their movement in fragmented landscapes such as farmlands. Yet, assessing the effectiveness of conservation networks is challenging.
  • Here, we compared the ecological requirements of amphibian species with existing conservation network coverage in a human-dominated region of western France. First, we mapped suitable habitat distributions for nine species of amphibian with varying ecological requirements and mobility. Second, we used stacking species distribution modelling (SSDM) to produce multi-species habitat suitability maps. Then, to identify spatial continuity in suitable habitats at the regional scale, we defined species and multi-species core habitats to perform a connectivity analysis using Circuitscape theory. Finally, we compared different suitability maps with existing conservation networks to assess conservation coverage and efficiency.
  • We highlighted a mismatch between the most suitable amphibian habitats at the regional scale and the conservation network, both for common species and for species of high conservation concern. We also found two bottlenecks between areas of suitable habitat which might be crucial for population movements induced by global change, especially for species associated with hedgerow mosaic landscapes. These bottlenecks were not covered by any form of protection and are located in an intensive farmland context.
  • Synthesis and applications - We advocate the need to better integrate agricultural landscape mosaics into species conservation planning as well as to protect and promote agroecological practices suitable for biodiversity, including mixed and extensive livestock farming. We also emphasize the importance of interacting landscape elements of green infrastructure for amphibian conservation and the need for these to be effectively considered in land-use planning policies.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.290
Keywords: Green infrastructure, protected area, multi-habitat network, ecological network, stacked species distribution models, gap analysis, other effective area-based conservation measure, citizen science data
Matutini, Florence 1, 2; Baudry, Jacques 3; Fortin, Marie-Josee 4; Pain, Guillaume 1; Pithon, Josephine 1

1 ESA, Institut Agro, INRAE, BAGAP, F-49000, Angers, France
2 Office français de la biodiversité, F-78610, Auffargis, France
3 Independent researcher, F-35690, Acigné, France
4 Dept of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Univ. of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3B2, Canada
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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Matutini, Florence; Baudry, Jacques; Fortin, Marie-Josee; Pain, Guillaume; Pithon, Josephine. Conservation networks do not match the ecological requirements of amphibians. Peer Community Journal, Volume 3 (2023), article  no. e58. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.290.

Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI : 10.24072/pci.ecology.100504

Conflict of interest of the recommender and peer reviewers:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

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