Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Environmental Conservation (2014) 41 (2): 198–205; doi:10.1017/S0376892913000544


Copyright (c) Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2013; published by Cambridge University Press. Used by permission.


The fundamental goal of conservation planning is biodiversity persistence, yet most reserve selection methods prioritize sites using occurrence data. Numerous empirical studies support the notion that defining and measuring objectives in terms of species richness (where the value of a site is equal to the number of species it contains, or contributes to an existing reserve network) can be inadequate for maintaining biodiversity in the long term. An existing site-assessment framework that implicitly maximized the persistence probability of multiple species was integrated with a dynamic optimization model. The problem of sequential reserve selection as a Markov decision process was combined with stochastic dynamic programming to find the optimal solution. The approach represents a compromise between representation-based approaches (maximizing occurrences) and more complex tools, like spatially-explicit population models. The method, the inherent problems and interesting conclusions are illustrated with a land acquisition case study on the central Platte River.