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Biological Conservation
Volume 261, 2021, 109241

No more trouble: An economic strategy to protect taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity of continental turtles

Ricardo Lourenšo-de-Moraesa,b,1, Felipe S. Camposc, Ana C. Carnavald,e, Mileny Otania, Frederico G.R. Franšab, Pedro Cabralc, Evanilde Beneditoa

Programa de Pós-graduacão em Ecologia de Ambientes Aquáticos Continentais (PEA), Centro de Ciências Biológicas (CCB), Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Estadual de Maringá, 87020-900 Maringá, PR, Brazil.

Abstract

One key strategy to publicise the benefits of nature more effectively to people is to correlate indicators of human well-being with conservation needs. Turtles are important and publicly visible ecological indicator groups. We use continental turtles as flagship umbrella species in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest hotspot to design a conservation strategy that incorporates taxonomic (TD), functional (FD) and phylogenetic diversity (PD) for improved cost-effective outcomes. We first analyse the effectiveness of the current arrangement of protected areas (PAs) in safeguarding species by calculating the mean percentage overlap of each species range and the PAs network. We create three conservation models that differ in the amount of TD, FD and PD preserved. Each model defines a distinct plan (and cost) of paying landowners to participate in set-aside programs to preserve local habitats. We also analyse the performance of indicator species in representing TD, FD and PD gains and economic costs induced by payments for ecosystem services. The results show that species of continental turtles are not well conserved in the PAs. The spatial distribution of TD is highly correlated with that of FD and PD in the biome, with high values in the central region, in the extreme North, and in the South of the Atlantic Forest, due to the co-existence of the evolutionary lineages. We suggest a program for conservation planning to protect a threatened biodiversity hotspot, the ecosystem functions provided by flagship umbrella species, and its associated ecological and evolutionary values. Our findings are providing a representation of ecological and evolutionary values of continental turtles with annual economic benefits from environmental management tools.

Keywords: Atlantic Forest, Biodiversity hotspot, Conservation priorities, Protected areas, Freshwater turtles, Tortoises.

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