Setting priorities for the conservation of Venezuela's threatened birds

Jon Paul Rodríguez a1c1, Franklin Rojas-Suárez a2 and Christopher J. Sharpe a3
a1 Centro de Ecología, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Apdo. 21827, Caracas 1020-A, Venezuela
a2 Conservation International Venezuela, Av. San Juan Bosco, Edf. San Juan, Piso 8, Ofc. 8-A, Altamira, Caracas, Venezuela
a3 PROVITA, Apdo. 47552, Caracas 1041-A, Venezuela

Article author query
rodriguez jp   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
rojas-suarez f   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
sharpe cj   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


We develop and apply a four-dimensional priority-setting process for the conservation of threatened birds in Venezuela. The axes that we consider are extinction risk, degree of endemicity, taxonomic uniqueness and public appeal. Alhough the first three are relatively objective measures of biological attributes, the last one is a subjective judgement of the likelihood that conservation actions in favour of a species may succeed. By grouping higher priority species according to their geographical distribution within Venezuela, we generate a list of the top priorities to save the country's threatened birds, both species- and bioregion-based. The highest priority species are northern-helmeted curassow Pauxi pauxi, Andean condor Vultur gryphus, red siskin Carduelis cucullata and plain-flanked rail Rallus wetmorei, followed by eight high priority birds, wattled guan Aburria aburri, yellow-shouldered parrot Amazona barbadensis, scissor-tailed hummingbird Hylonympha macrocerca, rusty-faced parrot Hapalopsittaca amazonina, northern screamer Chauna chavaria, torrent duck Merganetta armata, rusty-flanked crake Laterallus levraudi, and military macaw Ara militaris. Northern Venezuela stands out as a significantly higher conservation priority than the south. The Andean Cordillera, Central Coastal Cordillera, Paria Peninsula-Turimiquire Massif Complex, and Sierra de Perijá are the highest priority bioregions, followed by Lara-Falcón Arid Lands and Maracaibo Lake Basin. A final set of combined priorities was determined by integrating all top ranking species and bioregions. Our approach is relatively simple and readily applicable to other taxa and regions.

(Received September 18 2003)
(Revised April 6 2004)
(Accepted July 2 2004)

Key Words: Birds; conservation planning; endangered; priorities; priority-setting; threatened species; Venezuela.

c1 Correspondence: Centro de Ecología, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Apdo. 21827, Caracas 1020-A, Venezuela. E-mail jonpaul@ivic.ve