Challenges and opportunities for conserving faunal biodiversity in arid ecosystems

Erica Fleishman, Ralph MAC NALLY, J.R. Thomson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Increasing competition for limited sources of water and primary productivity
    in arid and semi-arid landscapes poses substantial challenges for conserving the
    distinctive faunal biodiversity of these ecosystems. Natural climatic severity, human population growth, and anthropogenic climate change constrain opportunities for ecological restoration and rehabilitation. Nonetheless, although it may not be possible to restore systems to a historical or undisturbed state, existing management frameworks can be used to develop efficient strategies for faunal conservation with a high probability of success. We outline the threats to faunal biodiversity in arid ecosystems from climate change, agriculture (cultivation of crops and livestock grazing), modification of fire regimes, non-native invasive species, and localized urbanization. We also examine practical alternatives for addressing those threats. In particular, an integrated
    approach to valuation of environmental assets that incorporates both socio-economics and ecology is likely to gain community support and provide a realistic foundation for effective adaptive management. We describe how the approach has been implemented for riparian systems in Victoria, Australia, and explore how it can be generalized to conserve faunal biodiversity of arid zones worldwide.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)427-444
    Number of pages18
    JournalAnnals of Arid Zone
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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