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Evaluating the Brazilian system of strictly protected areas using owls as an indicator group
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  • Paolo Ramoni Perazzi,
  • Marcelo Passamani,
  • Dirk Thielen,
  • Marco Arizapana-Almonacid
Paolo Ramoni Perazzi
Universidade Federal de Lavras

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Marcelo Passamani
Universidade Federal de Lavras
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Dirk Thielen
Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research
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Marco Arizapana-Almonacid
National Autonomous University of Huanta
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AIM To set or assess conservation and management efforts based on the knowledge of the total biodiversity is unrealistic. For such a reason, the identification of priority areas based on biodiversity hotspots determined through indicator groups has become a common approach. This requires a crystal-clear knowledge of the taxonomy and distribution of such indicator groups, which in the Tropics can be troublesome, especially for rare or secretive taxa. Thus, we assessed the potential distribution of 21 species and 21 subspecies of Brazilian Strigidae through Species Distribution Modelling (SDM) based on a Maximum Entropy approach. LOCATION Brazil. METHODS We (1) gathered and filtered occurrences data for Brazilian Strigidae, (2) generated SDMs for each species and subspecies, (3) evaluated the niche similarity among subspecies, (4) built up species’ richness maps, and (5) contrasted such information to the strict protection areas in Brazil. RESULTS With 81% of the Brazilian species recorded, both the Atlantic Forest and the Cerrado have the highest richness, followed by the Amazonia (67%), Pampa (62%), Caatinga (57%) and Pantanal (48%). However, the comparison of the recorded and predicted richness suggests overall incomplete inventories, especially in the Caatinga and Pantanal. On the other hand, subspecies showed marked niches divergencies, suggesting that the recognized Strigidae species richness is underestimated in Brazil. Cerrado and Atlantic forest are the most threatened biomes, with preservation areas relatively small and sparse. MAIN CONCLUSIONS We demonstrated that the situation of Brazilian Strigidae involves an underestimated species richness, within an inadequate framework of protected areas, in a megadiverse Country characterized by high rates of habitat transformations. Thus, our study is a hurrying call to explore owl lineage diversification in Brazil to improve biodiversity-related conservation efforts.