Imperfect detection alters the outcome of management strategies for protected areas



Designing protected areas configurations to maximize biodiversity is a critical conservation goal. The configuration of protected areas can significantly impact the richness and identity of the species found there; one large patch supports larger populations but can facilitate competitive exclusion. Conversely, many small habitats spreads risk but may exclude predators that typically require large home ranges. Identifying how best to design protected areas is further complicated by monitoring programs failing to detect species. Here we test the consequences of different protected area configurations using multi-trophic level experimental microcosms. We demonstrate that for a given total size, many small patches generate higher species richness, are more likely to contain predators, and have fewer extinctions compared to single large patches. However, the relationship between the size and number of patches and species richness was greatly affected by insufficient monitoring, and could lead to incorrect conservation decisions, especially for higher trophic levels.,The data set was collected using custom-built 3D printed microcosms to house protist communities. The data on abundances of different species were collected by counting on a disecting microscope. The protected area portfolios used in the manuscript were produced from the raw data using numerical simulations.,There are no missing values, the numbers in each column represent the abundance of each species in the entire well.,
Date made available23 Jun 2020

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