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Christchurch, New Zealand

Bennett J.R.,University of Queensland | Maloney R.,Christchurch Mail Center | Possingham H.P.,University of Queensland | Possingham H.P.,Imperial College London
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2015

To address the global extinction crisis, both efficient use of existing conservation funding and new sources of funding are vital. Private sponsorship of charismatic ‘flagship’ species conservation represents an important source of new funding, but has been criticized as being inefficient. However, the ancillary benefits of privately sponsored flagship species conservation via actions benefiting other species have not been quantified, nor have the benefits of incorporating such sponsorship into objective prioritization protocols. Here, we use a comprehensive dataset of conservation actions for the 700 most threatened species in New Zealand to examine the potential biodiversity gains from national private flagship species sponsorship programmes. We find that private funding for flagship species can clearly result in additional species and phylogenetic diversity conserved, via conservation actions shared with other species. When private flagship species funding is incorporated into a prioritization protocol to preferentially sponsor shared actions, expected gains can be more than doubled. However, these gains are consistently smaller than expected gains in a hypothetical scenario where private funding could be optimally allocated among all threatened species. We recommend integrating private sponsorship of flagship species into objective prioritization protocols to sponsor efficient actions that maximize biodiversity gains, or wherever possible, encouraging private donations for broader biodiversity goals. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. Source

Bennett J.R.,University of Queensland | Elliott G.,Private Bag | Mellish B.,Christchurch Mail Center | Joseph L.N.,Wildlife Conservation Society | And 8 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2014

Funding for managing threatened species is currently insufficient to assist recovery of all species, so management projects must be prioritized. In attempts to maximize phylogenetic diversity conserved, prioritization protocols for threatened species are increasingly weighting species using metrics that incorporate their evolutionary distinctiveness. In a case study using 700 of the most threatened species in New Zealand, we examined trade-offs between emphasis on species' evolutionary distinctiveness weights, and the numbers of species prioritized, as well as costs and probabilities of success for recovery projects. Increasing emphasis on species' evolutionary distinctiveness weights in the prioritization protocol led to greater per-species costs and higher risk of project failure. In a realistic, limited-budget scenario, this resulted in fewer species prioritized, which imposed limits on the total phylogenetic diversity that could be conserved. However, by systematically varying the emphasis on evolutionary distinctiveness weight in the prioritization protocol we were able to minimize trade-offs, and obtain species groups that were near-optimal for both species numbers and phylogenetic diversity conserved. Phylogenetic diversity may not equate perfectly with functional diversity or evolutionary potential, and conservation agencies may be reluctant to sacrifice species numbers. Thus, we recommend prioritizing species groups that achieve an effective balance between maximizing phylogenetic diversity and number of species conserved. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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