Red List updates and the robustness of sites selected for conservation of red-listed species
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The long-term success of sites selected for species conservation depends on the persistence of target species. Red List species or threatened species lists are frequently defined as target species, but when Red Lists are updated, their species composition may change. Here we investigate the effects of Red List updates on the long-term robustness of fine-scale site selection. We used records of red-listed species (vascular plants, bryophytes, macrolichens, and polypore fungi) recorded in 1997–1998 in 1058 sample plots (50 × 50 m) from six forest landscapes in Norway, and four consecutive issues of the Norwegian Red List for species (1998, 2006, 2010, 2015). Sites were selected based on the first issue (1998) using both a scoring (“hotspot”) approach and a complementarity approach, and the ability of selected sites to include red-listed species of later issues was measured. In four boreal forests the mean proportion of red-listed species included in selected sites were reduced by18% during the study period, whereas no such effect was found in two hemiboreal forests, where increased clustering of red-listed species in sites compensated for target species changes. Changing target species adds to earlier documented challenges caused by population dynamics, and we suggest that alternatives to using occurrences of target species in site selection should be considered, and particularly at finer spatial scales.