Diversity modeled for Madagascar, how about California?

The Science and Nature section of BBC News has an article on applying diversity measures to Madagascar habitat. This relates to the central thesis of the Tallamy book which I wrote about here and here.

I think there are many similarities in between Madagascar and California. The California Floristic Province is essentially an island, like Madagascar. Biodiversity is particularly high (at a guess, animal biodiversity seems higher in Madagascar, and plant diversity higher in California).

"Because it is the fourth largest island in the world, it's got a lot of major ecosystems within it - it has desert areas, rainforests, high mountains, lowlands and it also has incredible marine resources as well.

"There has also been a lot of diversification within the island of the plants and animals, so it's not only a place where many species are unique, it is also a place that is very rich in biodiversity.

"The real problem is knowing what areas to protect."

Widening the web

In 2003, the president of Madagascar announced plans to triple the size of the network of protected areas in an attempt to conserve the nation's flora and fauna, many of which were under threat from human developments.

In an effort to help the government decide what areas to protect, the international team of researchers gathered existing data from Madagascan scientists on more than 2,300 species.
"Once we had accumulated all this data, we put it all into something we called an optimisation analysis. It looks for the best solution to try to protect all of these different species.

"When you have more than 2,300 species you really need a computer to figure it out; what we were looking for was 10% of the country that could include all of those species."

But the analysis went a step further, Professor Kremen added: "It is one thing to include a species in a protected area, it is another thing to think about whether that species would have enough habitat included and a large enough population to survive in the future.

"Our computer software allows us to find a solution that not only includes all of these species, but includes as much as possible of the habitats that they need."

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