Identification of biodiversity hotspots (hereafter, hotspots) has become a common strategy to delineate important areas for wildlife conservation. However, the use of hotspots has not often incorporated important habitat types, ecosystem services, anthropogenic activity, or consistency in identifying important conservation areas. The purpose of this study was to identify hotspots to improve avian conservation efforts for Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in the state of Idaho, United States. We evaluated multiple approaches to define hotspots and used a unique approach based on weighting species by their distribution size and conservation status to identify hotspot areas. All hotspot approaches identified bodies of water (Bear Lake, Grays Lake, and American Falls Reservoir) as important hotspots for Idaho avian SGCN, but we found that the weighted approach produced more congruent hotspot areas when compared to other hotspot approaches. To incorporate anthropogenic activity into hotspot analysis, we grouped species based on their sensitivity to specific human threats (i.e., urban development, agriculture, fire suppression, grazing, roads, and logging) and identified ecological sections within Idaho that may require specific conservation actions to address these human threats using the weighted approach. The Snake River Basalts and Overthrust Mountains ecological sections were important areas for potential implementation of conservation actions to conserve biodiversity. Our approach to identifying hotspots may be useful as part of a larger conservation strategy to aid land managers or local governments in applying conservation actions on the ground.
Additional publication details
Using a distribution and conservation status weighted hotspot approach to identify areas in need of conservation action to benefit Idaho bird species
Northwest Scientific Association
Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit