Priority areas for the conservation of coastal marine vertebrates in Chile
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In the past decade, there has been growing concern about the rapid degradation of marine ecosystems due to anthropogenic causes. Consequently, identifying priority areas for the conservation of marine biodiversity has become a crucial conservation issue. Taking into account the influence of human population density, we performed complementarity analyses to identify priority areas for the conservation of all coastal marine vertebrate species in Chile (265 species), and evaluated congruence among the different target groups. The distribution ranges of all species were digitized in a geographic information system and analyses were performed on latitudinal bands of 0.5. Our results show that 12 latitudinal bands (similar to 16% of all latitudinal bands) are necessary to conserve at least one population of each species. Ten of these bands are irreplaceable, whereas two are flexible. Many of the irreplaceable sites lie within areas that have high human population density. In order to conserve all threatened and endemic species, six and three latitudinal bands are needed, respectively. Four latitudinal bands are needed to represent all species of fish, reptiles, and mammals, whereas nine bands are needed to protect all bird species. Taking flexible sites into account, reserve networks that meet the minimum representation goal for each taxonomic group, and for threatened and endemic species, represent subsets of the 12 latitudinal band network selected for all species. Spatial congruence among reserve networks selected for each target group was relatively low and only significantly higher than random in 9 out of 2.1 pairwise comparisons. However, with the exception of reptiles, conservation areas selected for different surrogate groups represented other groups relatively well, compared to randomly selected sites.