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Revista de la Academia Colombiana de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales

Print version ISSN 0370-3908


FORERO-MEDINA, German; VALENZUELA, Leonor  and  SAAVEDRA-RODRIGUEZ, Carlos A.. Landscape species approach for biodiversity conservation: a quantitative assessment of effectiveness. Rev. acad. colomb. cienc. exact. fis. nat. [online]. 2021, vol.45, n.175, pp.555-569.  Epub Sep 16, 2021. ISSN 0370-3908.

Species-oriented conservation programs are a common strategy to halt biodiversity loss. The landscape species concept is based on the selection of a group of species with certain characteristics allowing to identify and address the threats to biodiversity present in a particular area. It has two main assumptions: 1) that conservation of landscape species will result in the conservation of other species in the ecosystem, and 2) that it will also maintain the ecosystem structure and its corresponding functions. To assess these hypotheses, we rely on data from the Wildlife Project, a conservation initiative developed with this approach in two areas of Colombia. We evaluated in a quantitative fashion the first hypothesis through multi-season occupancy models using data from camera traps (2015 to 2017). We then estimated the effect of conservation actions in reducing forest loss at the scale of individual land properties and at the landscape scale by comparing deforestation rates in similar areas but in the absence of conservation actions (counterfactual). The strategies, specifically conservation agreements, increased colonization rates and reduced extinction rates for some landscape species and other vertebrates. Other species were not affected by this specific strategy. Deforestation was lower in the landscape than in adjacent areas, although there was no significant effect. At the individual property scale, in 2017 conservation agreements reduced deforestation rates. The methods presented here allow assessing causality and testing clear hypotheses to measure the effect of specific actions in conservation programs.

Keywords : Conservation; Program evaluation; Monitoring; Biodiversity; Tropics; Colombia.

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