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The spatial distribution of threats to species in Australia

Evans, M.C., Watson, J.E.M., Fuller, R.A., Venter, O., Bennett, S.C., Marsack, P.R. & Possingham, H.P. 2011. The spatial distribution of threats to species in Australia. BioScience, 61, 281–289.

Conservation is ultimately about safeguarding biodiversity by arresting and reversing the impacts of threatening processes. Although data on the distributions of species are increasingly well resolved, the spatial distributions of threats to species are poorly understood. We mapped the distributions of eight major threats to Australia’s threatened plants, vertebrates, and invertebrates using the geographic ranges of species affected by particular threats as surrogates for their spatial occurrence. Our results indicate that simply quantifying the proportion of species affected by particular threatening processes does not adequately capture the variation in the spatial extent, prevalence, or predominance of threats to species. Conservation planning is an inherently spatial process; therefore, explicitly considering the spatial dimension of threats could significantly enhance our ability to direct efforts to areas where the greatest conservation outcomes can be delivered.

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