A vulnerability assessment of 300 species in Florida: Threats from sea level rise, land use, and climate change

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Abstract

Species face many threats, including accelerated climate change, sea level rise, and conversion and degradation of habitat from human land uses. Vulnerability assessments and prioritization protocols have been proposed to assess these threats, often in combination with information such as species rarity; ecological, evolutionary or economic value; and likelihood of success. Nevertheless, few vulnerability assessments or prioritization protocols simultaneously account for multiple threats or conservation values. We applied a novel vulnerability assessment tool, the Standardized Index of Vulnerability and Value, to assess the conservation priority of 300 species of plants and animals in Florida given projections of climate change, human land-use patterns, and sea level rise by the year 2100. We account for multiple sources of uncertainty and prioritize species under five different systems of value, ranging from a primary emphasis on vulnerability to threats to an emphasis on metrics of conservation value such as phylogenetic distinctiveness. Our results reveal remarkable consistency in the prioritization of species across different conservation value systems. Species of high priority include the Miami blue butterfly (Cyclargus thomasi bethunebakeri), Key tree cactus (Pilosocereus robinii), Florida duskywing butterfly (Ephyriades brunnea floridensis), and Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium). We also identify sources of uncertainty and the types of life history information consistently missing across taxonomic groups. This study characterizes the vulnerabilities to major threats of a broad swath of Florida's biodiversity and provides a system for prioritizing conservation efforts that is quantitative, flexible, and free from hidden value judgments. © 2013 Reece et al.

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Reece, J. S., Noss, R. F., Oetting, J., Hoctor, T., & Volk, M. (2013). A vulnerability assessment of 300 species in Florida: Threats from sea level rise, land use, and climate change. PLoS ONE, 8(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0080658

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