Missouri's Conservation Networks: Representation of Stream Fish Species and Relative Conservation Value

Wednesday, September 11, 2013: 4:00 PM
Izard (Statehouse Convention Center)
Nicholas Sievert , Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Missouri Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, Columbia, MO
Craig P. Paukert , Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, U.S. Geological Survey Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Columbia, MO
Conservation networks are an important tool for landscape-based conservation of aquatic biodiversity.  Our objective was to determine 1) the level of representation of stream fish species within Missouri’s conservation networks (Priority Watersheds, Conservation Opportunity Areas, and the existing conservation network), and 2) which units provide the most conservation value, and 3) to identify complementary areas outside of the current networks which add the most conservation value.  Using species distribution models we determined the expected representation of 141 stream fish species within the conservation networks using  an ensemble technique which averaged the outputs of all models which received AUC scores above 0.7 (Multivariate Adaptive Radiation Splines, Generalized Additive Models, Random Forest Models, and Boosted Regression Trees).  Conservation value for each unit was calculated based on species probability of occurrence, species vulnerability, landscape integrity, and connectivity, using the Zonation algorithm.  Species with relatively low expected probabilities of occurrence typically were rare and had restricted distributions.  There was a substantial difference in the relative conservation value of the most and least valuable conservation network units.  The complementary areas we identified had relatively high conservation values indicating they would make significant contributions to stream fish species conservation if included in future efforts.