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Habitat-based conservation priorities for carabid beetles within the Picos de Europa National Park, northern Spain.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date02/2004
JournalBiological Conservation
Journal number3
Volume115
Number of pages15
Pages379-393
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Quick biodiversity studies on poorly studied taxa and areas are increasingly popular for setting conservation priorities over a wide range of spatial scales. However, the implementation of such studies is complicated by the variable extent to which the different criteria used in prioritisation are correlated to each other. Using methods of constrained ordination, we examined the species-habitat relationships of carabid beetles based on ground beetle assemblages from 22 sites in the Picos de Europa National Park, northern Spain. We found characteristic species assemblages for subalpine meadows, Genista shrublands, and pastures, whereas mown meadows, heathlands, beech and riparian woodlands were occupied by more habitat generalist species. Species associated with subalpine meadows and Genista shrublands tended to be mostly brachypterous and to have geographic ranges restricted to northern Spain. In contrast, we found no relationship between the degree of species' association with pastures and geographic range-wing size type. Although the species richness was higher in riparian woodlands and mown meadows, we suggest a higher conservation value for subalpine meadows and Genista shrublands across the landscape because they sustain characteristic assemblages dominated by species with restricted ranges and reduced powers of dispersal. Our study suggests that preserving areas in the landscape supporting higher biodiversity will not necessarily preserve those species potentially more susceptible to habitat loss and fragmentation. It also supports the feasibility of biodiversity studies based on multivariate techniques for setting conservation priorities over complex landscapes.