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Refining area of occupancy to address the modifiable areal unit problem in ecology and conservation

Moat, Justin; Bachman, Steven P.; Field, Richard; Boyd, Doreen S.

Authors

Justin Moat

Steven P. Bachman

DOREEN BOYD doreen.boyd@nottingham.ac.uk
Professor of Earth Observation



Abstract

© 2018 The Authors. Conservation Biology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Society for Conservation Biology. The modifiable areal unit problem is prevalent across many aspects of spatial analysis within ecology and conservation. The problem is particularly manifested when calculating metrics for extinction risk estimation, for example, area of occupancy (AOO). Although embedded in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria, AOO is often not used or is poorly applied. We evaluated new and existing methods for calculating AOO from occurrence records and devised a method for determining the minimum AOO with a uniform grid. We evaluated the grid cell shape, origin, and rotation with real-world and simulated data and reviewed the effects on AOO values and possible impacts for species already assessed on the IUCN Red List. The AOO varied by up to 80%, and a ratio of cells to points of 1:1.21 yielded the maximum variation in the number of occupied cells. These findings potentially impact 3% of existing species on the IUCN Red List and species not yet assessed. Our new method combined grid rotation and moving grid origin and gave fast, robust, and reproducible results and, in the majority of cases, achieved the minimum AOO. As well as determining minimum AOO, our method yielded a confidence interval that should be incorporated into existing tools that support species risk assessment. We recommend when recording AOO and other areal measurements that the methods; summary statistics across multiple iterations; angle and origin of the minimum grid; map projection; and datum be recorded, this will lead to more robust species risk assessments.

Citation

Moat, J., Bachman, S. P., Field, R., & Boyd, D. S. (2018). Refining area of occupancy to address the modifiable areal unit problem in ecology and conservation. Conservation Biology, 32(6), 1278-1289. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13139

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 9, 2018
Online Publication Date May 23, 2018
Publication Date Dec 1, 2018
Deposit Date Jun 19, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jun 19, 2018
Journal Conservation Biology
Print ISSN 0888-8892
Electronic ISSN 1523-1739
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 32
Issue 6
Pages 1278-1289
DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13139
Keywords IUCN Red List, conservation assessments, point data, raster, species distribution, threatened species, Modifiable Areal Unit Problem (MAUP)
Public URL http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/52481
Publisher URL https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cobi.13139
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0

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Moat_et_al-2018-Conservation_Biology.pdf (1.8 Mb)
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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0


Moat_et_al-2018-Conservation_Biology.pdf (1.9 Mb)
PDF

Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0





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