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A new study on environmental economy helps improving the preservation of amphibians in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest

The Brazilian Atlantic Forest is one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspot.

The Brazilian Atlantic Forest is one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspot.

The authors warn that a 90% of the biodiversity related to the amphibian populations in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest is not a protected area yet. Image: <i>Proceratophrys boiei</i>, Felipe Siqueira Campos (UB)

The authors warn that a 90% of the biodiversity related to the amphibian populations in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest is not a protected area yet. Image: Proceratophrys boiei, Felipe Siqueira Campos (UB)

From left to right, the researchers Gustavo Llorente, Felipe Siqueira Campos and Mirco Solé.

From left to right, the researchers Gustavo Llorente, Felipe Siqueira Campos and Mirco Solé.

The new study provides three complementary models on economic estimations to represent the biodiversity components –functional, phylogenic and taxonomic diversity- in relation to their protection capacity.

The new study provides three complementary models on economic estimations to represent the biodiversity components –functional, phylogenic and taxonomic diversity- in relation to their protection capacity.

This new approach on environmental economy could also be applied in species-rich regions that have endangered species.

This new approach on environmental economy could also be applied in species-rich regions that have endangered species.

04/07/2017

Recerca

The 90% of the biodiversity related to the amphibian populations in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest –one of the most threatened tropical forests- is not a protected area yet, according to an article published in the journal Science Advances. The new study, which has the participation of the experts Gustavo Llorente and Felipe Siqueira Campos, from the Faculty of Biology of the University of Barcelona, warns about the important need of more efforts on the conservation of the area’s biodiversity, which is the natural habitat of more than 500 amphibian species, in which there is a 90% of endemic species.

 

Environmental economy: protecting biodiversity in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest

Losing natural habitat is the most important threat for the species’ survival. Therefore, selecting the areas to be protected is crucial to design a new systematic planning in the conservation of biodiversity.

The conclusions in the study, also signed by Ricardo Lourenço-de-Moraes (Federal University of Goiás) and Mirco Solé (State University of Santa Cruz, Bahia), in Brazil, are based on an innovative protocol with effective conservation measures to define new priorities to assess the biodiversity in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. This new approach on environmental economy, with amphibians as its object of study, could also be applied in species-rich regions that have endangered species.

The new protocol considers threatened species, protected areas and the related values related to the economic cost of the land. In particular, according to Gustavo Llorente, from the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences of the UB and the Biodiversity Research Institute of Barcelona (IRBio), “our study provides three complementary models on economic estimations to represent the biodiversity components –functional, phylogenic and taxonomic diversity- in relation to their protection capacity”.

Studying multiple perspectives of biodiversity

Functional diversity is a dimension that represents the level of differences between species according to the morphological, physiological and ecologic characteristics. Phylogenic diversity adds value to the distinction of species in accordance to their evolutionary processes, and this concept reflects the evolutionary divergence process and time in the tree of life. Last, taxonomic diversity represents the number of species assigned to a particular region. In this context, combining indicators on functional, phylogenic and taxonomic diversity is a methodological tool that helps predicting differential effects of competition and environmental filtering in the community assembly.

According to the UB researcher Felipe S. Campos, first author of the study “this innovative design shows that prediction models focused on functional, phylogenic and taxonomic diversity can include cost-effective economic values of the land”.

“The main message –he continues- is that economic costs of the land that are attributed to in our models can work as an effective mechanism to pay for the environmental services. Compared to Brazilian agrarian activities, this value corresponds to a 24,13% of the average profit of the local agricultural land”.

Unprotected areas, endangered species

To create the models, the authors included the unprotected areas –which are a priority for the conservation of biodiversity- with at least an endangered species. Calculating the economic cost of the land is based on the average value of year payments made by the Ministry of Environment in Brazil to the owners of forest remnants in the Atlantic Forest as an ecological compensation (specifically 13.273 dollars per square kilometer) for environmental services.

The authors warn that a 90% of the functional, phylogenetic and taxonomic diversity of amphibians in the Atlantic Forest is still outside the available protected areas. Also, they identified a high functional and phylogenetic diversity in the east side of the Atlantic Forest, in a gradient of growing values that range from the central area to the north-eastern side of the biome. The new research study also describes some spatial imbalances in the studied areas, apart from a high correspondence between the biodiversity components evaluated by the authors.



More information

Felipe S. Campos, Ricardo Lourenço-de-Moraes, Gustavo A. Llorente, Mirco Solé. «Cost-effective conservation of amphibian ecology and evolution». Science Advances, June 2017. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602929

 

 

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