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Setting priorities for the conservation of Venezuela's threatened birds

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 October 2004

Jon Paul Rodríguez
Centro de Ecología, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Apdo. 21827, Caracas 1020-A, Venezuela
Franklin Rojas-Suárez
Conservation International Venezuela, Av. San Juan Bosco, Edf. San Juan, Piso 8, Ofc. 8-A, Altamira, Caracas, Venezuela
Christopher J. Sharpe
PROVITA, Apdo. 47552, Caracas 1041-A, Venezuela
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We develop and apply a four-dimensional priority-setting process for the conservation of threatened birds in Venezuela. The axes that we consider are extinction risk, degree of endemicity, taxonomic uniqueness and public appeal. Alhough the first three are relatively objective measures of biological attributes, the last one is a subjective judgement of the likelihood that conservation actions in favour of a species may succeed. By grouping higher priority species according to their geographical distribution within Venezuela, we generate a list of the top priorities to save the country's threatened birds, both species- and bioregion-based. The highest priority species are northern-helmeted curassow Pauxi pauxi, Andean condor Vultur gryphus, red siskin Carduelis cucullata and plain-flanked rail Rallus wetmorei, followed by eight high priority birds, wattled guan Aburria aburri, yellow-shouldered parrot Amazona barbadensis, scissor-tailed hummingbird Hylonympha macrocerca, rusty-faced parrot Hapalopsittaca amazonina, northern screamer Chauna chavaria, torrent duck Merganetta armata, rusty-flanked crake Laterallus levraudi, and military macaw Ara militaris. Northern Venezuela stands out as a significantly higher conservation priority than the south. The Andean Cordillera, Central Coastal Cordillera, Paria Peninsula-Turimiquire Massif Complex, and Sierra de Perijá are the highest priority bioregions, followed by Lara-Falcón Arid Lands and Maracaibo Lake Basin. A final set of combined priorities was determined by integrating all top ranking species and bioregions. Our approach is relatively simple and readily applicable to other taxa and regions.

© 2004 Fauna & Flora International