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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 918718, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/918718
Research Article

Gap Analysis and Conservation Network for Freshwater Wetlands in Central Yangtze Ecoregion

School of Environment and State Key Laboratory of Water Environment Simulation, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China

Received 30 April 2013; Accepted 13 June 2013

Academic Editors: J. Bai, H. Cao, and A. Li

Copyright © 2013 Li Xiaowen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The Central Yangtze Ecoregion contains a large area of internationally important freshwater wetlands and supports a huge number of endangered waterbirds; however, these unique wetlands and the biodiversity they support are under the constant threats of human development pressures, and the prevailing conservation strategies generated based on the local scale cannot adequately be used as guidelines for ecoregion-based conservation initiatives for Central Yangtze at the broad scale. This paper aims at establishing and optimizing an ecological network for freshwater wetland conservation in the Central Yangtze Ecoregion based on large-scale gap analysis. A group of focal species and GIS-based extrapolation technique were employed to identify the potential habitats and conservation gaps, and the optimized conservation network was then established by combining existing protective system and identified conservation gaps. Our results show that only 23.49% of the potential habitats of the focal species have been included in the existing nature reserves in the Central Yangtze Ecoregion. To effectively conserve over 80% of the potential habitats for the focal species by optimizing the existing conservation network for the freshwater wetlands in Central Yangtze Ecoregion, it is necessary to establish new wetland nature reserves in 22 county units across Hubei, Anhui, and Jiangxi provinces.