Are trade-offs between flexibility and efficiency in systematic conservation planning avoidable?
Species distribution models (SDMs) have been proposed as a way to provide robust inference about species-specific sites suitabilities, and have been increasingly used in systematic conservation planning (SCP) applications. However, despite the fact that the use of SDMs in SCP may raise some potential issues, conservation studies have overlooked to assess the implications of SDMs uncertainties. The integration of these uncertainties in conservation solutions requires the development of a
... opment of a reserve-selection approach based on a suitable optimization algorithm. A large body of research has shown that exact optimization algorithms give very precise control over the gap to optimality of conservation solutions. However, their major shortcoming is that they generate a single binary and indivisible solution. Therefore, they provide no flexibility in the implementation of conservation solutions by stakeholders. On the other hand, heuristic decision-support systems provide large amounts of sub-optimal solutions, and therefore more flexibility. This flexibility arises from the availability of many alternative and sub-optimal conservation solutions. The two principles of efficiency and flexibility are implicitly linked in conservation applications, with the most mathematically efficient solutions being inflexible and the flexible solutions provided by heuristics suffering sub-optimality. In order to avoid the trade-offs between flexibility and efficiency in systematic conservation planning, we propose in this paper a new reserve-selection framework based on mathematical programming optimization combined with a post-selection of SDM outputs. This approach leads to a reserve-selection framework that might provide flexibility while simultaneously addressing efficiency and representativeness of conservation solutions and the adequacy of conservation targets. To exemplify the approach we a nalyzed an experimental design crossing pre- and post-selection of SDM outputs versus heuristics and exact mathematical optimizations. We used the Mediterranean Sea as a biogeographical template for our analyses, integrating the outputs of 8 SDM techniques for 438 fishes species.