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Methods for reserve selection: Interior point search

Atte Moilanen *

Metapopulation Research Group, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 65, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland

ABSTRACT

Spatial reserve design concerns the planning of biological reserves for conservation. Typical reserve selection formulations operate on a large set of landscape elements, which could be grid cells or irregular sites, and selection algorithms aim to select the set of sites that achieves biodiversity target levels with minimum cost. This study presents a completely different optimization approach to reserve design. The reserve selection problem can be considerably simplified given the reasonable assumptions that: (i) maximum reserve cost is known; (ii) the approximate number of new reserves to be established is known; (iii) individual reserves need to be spatially contiguous. Further assuming the ability to construct a set of reserves in an efficient and close to optimal manner around designated reserve locations, the reserve selection problem can be turned into a search for a single interior point and area for each reserve. The utility of the proposed method is demonstrated for a data set of seven indicator species living in an conservation priority area in Southern Australia consisting of ca 73,000 selection units, with up to 10,000 cells chosen for inclusion in a reserve network. Requirements (ii) and (iii) above make interior point search computationally very efficient, allowing use with landscapes in the order of millions of elements. The method could also be used with non-linear species distribution models.