Defining critical habitat for plant species with poor occurrence knowledge and identification of critical habitat networks

Sergei Volis, Komiljon Tojibaev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We applied spatial distribution and reserve selection modeling to identify critical habitat network for 50 critically endangered plant species of Uzbekistan. We created maps of relative habitat suitability, converted them into maps of species critical habitat, and the latter served as input to the spatial conservation prioritization program Zonation. Although all studied species were extremely rare, the extent of their predicted critical habitat ranged from 2.6 to 15,508 km2 and did not correlate with the number of occurrence records. It appears that the extent of the threatened species predicted suitable area is an indicator of whether the species rarity is inherent due to vary narrow ecological niche or caused solely by anthropogenic activity. This has important conservation implications. Imperiled species from the first category are less amenable (if at all) to such conservation actions as trans- or relocation (i.e. there is no alternative to protecting the last remaining populations). Species from the second group can potentially grow in many more locations than they currently occupy, and therefore, for these species, translocation can be the most appropriate strategy when their last remaining locations are degraded or can not be protected for whatever reason. Based on results of nature reserve design that utilized SDM-predicted maps for 50 imperiled species, we recommend adding new areas to the existing network of protected areas to cover critical habitats of highly threatened plant species. The highest priority for adding have the territories harboring critical habitat of disproportionally high number of imperiled species, and we found that they all are concentrated in the eastern part of Uzbekistan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3603-3611
Number of pages9
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Critical habitat
  • Plant conservation
  • Protected areas
  • Reserve design
  • Species distribution modeling
  • Zonation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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