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Spatial relationship between climatic diversity and biodiversity conservation value

Wang, Junjun, Wu, Ruidong, He, Daming, Yang, Feiling, Hu, Peijun, Lin, Shiwei, Wu, Wei, Diao, Yixin, Guo, Yang
Conservation biology 2018 v.32 no.6 pp. 1266-1277
anthropogenic activities, biodiversity, biodiversity conservation, climate change, climatic factors, conservation areas, indigenous species, planning, topography, China
Capturing the full range of climatic diversity in a reserve network is expected to improve the resilience of biodiversity to climate change. Therefore, a study on systematic conservation planning for climatic diversity that explicitly or implicitly hypothesizes that regions with higher climatic diversity support greater biodiversity is needed. However, little is known about the extent and generality of this hypothesis. We used the case of Yunnan, southwest China, to quantitatively classify climatic units and modeled 4 climatic diversity indicators, including the variety (VCU), rarity (RCU), endemism (ECU) of climatic units, and a composite index of climatic diversity (CICD). We used 5 schemes that reliably identify priority conservation areas (PCAs) to identify areas with high biodiversity conservation value. We then investigated the spatial relationships between the 4 climatic diversity indicators and the results of the 5 PCA schemes and assessed the representation of climatic diversity within the existing nature reserves. The CICD was the best indicator of areas with high conservation value, followed by ECU and RCU. Contrary to conventional knowledge, VCU was not positively associated with biodiversity conservation value. The rarer or more endemic climatic units tended to have higher reserve coverage than the more common units. However, only 28 units, covering 10.5% of the land in Yunnan, had >17% of their areas protected. In addition to climatic factors, topography and human disturbances also significantly affected the relationship between climatic diversity and biodiversity conservation value. Our results suggest that climatic diversity can be an effective surrogate for establishing a more robust reserve network under climate change in Yunnan. Our study improves understanding of the relationship between climatic diversity and biodiversity and helps build an evidence‐based foundation for systematic conservation planning that targets climatic diversity in response to climate change.