Protected areas and regional avian species richness in South Africa

Karl L. Evans, Ana S.L. Rodrigues, Steven L. Chown, Kevin J. Gaston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Protected areas are generally regarded as essential for the long-term maintenance of biodiversity. Evidence for their effectiveness in this regard is, however, somewhat equivocal. Here, we document the relationship between the proportion of protected land and species richness in a region, both with and without taking spatial variation in environmental energy availability into account. Using the South African avifauna as a case study, we find that total and threatened species richness exhibit modest increases with the proportion of protected land. While the protected area network should be expanded, it is essential that conservation efforts also focus on maintaining biodiversity in the wider unprotected landscape that supports high species richness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-188
Number of pages5
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Birds
  • Conservation
  • Extinction
  • Protected areas
  • South Africa
  • Species-energy relationship

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