Performance and Consistency of Indicator Groups in Two Biodiversity Hotspots
In a world limited by data availability and limited funds for conservation, scientists and practitioners must use indicator groups to define spatial conservation priorities. Several studies have evaluated the effectiveness of indicator groups, but still little is known about the consistency in performance of these groups in different regions, which would allow their a priori selection. We systematically examined the effectiveness and the consistency of nine indicator groups in representing mammal species in two top-ranked Biodiversity Hotspots (BH): the Brazilian Cerrado and the Atlantic Forest. To test for group effectiveness we first found the best sets of sites able to maximize the representation of each indicator group in the BH and then calculated the average representation of different target species by the indicator groups in the BH. We considered consistent indicator groups whose representation of target species was not statistically different between BH. We called effective those groups that outperformed the target-species representation achieved by random sets of species. Effective indicator groups required the selection of less than 2% of the BH area for representing target species. Restricted-range species were the most effective indicators for the representation of all mammal diversity as well as target species. It was also the only group with high consistency. We show that several indicator groups could be applied as shortcuts for representing mammal species in the Cerrado and the Atlantic Forest to develop conservation plans, however, only restricted-range species consistently held as the most effective indicator group for such a task. This group is of particular importance in conservation planning as it captures high diversity of endemic and endangered species.