Balletto, Emilio and Bonelli, Simona and Borghesio, Luca and Casale, Achille and Brandmayr, Pietro and Vigna Taglianti, Augusto (2010) Hotspots of biodiversity and conservation priorities: a methodological approach. Italian Journal of Zoology, Vol. 77 (1), p. 2-13. eISSN 1748-5851. Article.
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This is a methodological paper aimed at comparing methods to assess regional biodiversity. In more detail we compared the effectiveness of hotspots of species richness, of rarity and complementarity in evaluating local animal diversity. Species distributions were sampled over a 10x10 km UTM grid across the Italian territory. We considered 471 species of zygaenids, butterflies, carabines, amphibians and reptiles. Hotspots were analysed at national and regional levels and considered taxa either all together, or separately. To test the predictive value of complementarity analysis, we initially excluded zygaenids. At national level, of 3218 10x10 km UTM quadrats sampled, 161 (5% of total) had highest species richness. Islands included only 1 hotspot (Sicily). Sixty-eight species (14.4%) were not represented. They were mainly endemic (65%), insular (73.5%), or rare (25%). Working taxon by taxon, hotspots numbered 433. Only 85 (19.6%) were hotspots contemporaneously for two taxa and only 9 were hotspots for 3 taxa. Missing species were fundamentally insular species. The regional-level approach generated 467 hotspots. Eleven species were not represented (2.3%). They had marginal distributions, or were insular endemites. Hotspots of rarity numbered 235 and 10 species were not included. Results demonstrated that hotspots are poor predictors of overall biodiversity. The complementarity method identified 67 quadrats. By definition, these quadrats accounted for all species investigated. They failed, however, to predict the occurrence of three zygaenids. As expected, complementarity provided better results than hotspots analysis. Combining the two methods assures that areas having the highest biodiversity are identified, even working with incomplete databases. Regional or rarity hotspots should generally be preferred to hotspots of species richness.
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