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Vulture populations are in severe decline across Africa and prioritization of geographic areas for their conservation is urgently needed. To do so, we compiled three independent datasets on vulture occurrence from road-surveys, GPS-tracking, and citizen science (eBird), and used maximum entropy to build ensemble species distribution models (SDMs). We then identified spatial vulture conservation priorities in Ethiopia, a stronghold for vultures in Africa, while accounting for uncertainty in our predictions. We were able to build robust distribution models for five vulture species across the entirety of Ethiopia, including three Critically Endangered, one Endangered, and one Near Threatened species. We show that priorities occur in the highlands of Ethiopia, which provide particularly important habitat for Bearded Gypaetus barbatus, Hooded Necrosyrtes monachus, Rüppell’s Gyps rüppelli and White-backed Gyps africanus Vultures, as well as the lowlands of north-eastern Ethiopia, which are particularly valuable for the Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus. One-third of the core distribution of the Egyptian Vulture was protected, followed by the White-backed Vulture at one-sixth, and all other species at one-tenth. Overall, only about one-fifth of vulture priority areas were protected. Given that there is limited protection of priority areas and that vultures range widely, we argue that measures of broad spatial and legislative scope will be necessary to address drivers of vulture declines, including poisoning, energy infrastructure, and climate change, while considering the local social context and aiding sustainable development.
Species distribution data are critical information sources when it comes to implementing the multiple Aichi Targets set by the international Convention on Biological Diversity. Although there have been international-scale efforts to aggregate distribution data, the magnitudes and locations of the gaps in biodiversity knowledge remain unclear. In this study, we use a large database, including over 200 000 species occurrence records, to identify knowledge gaps in biodiversity inventories for nine animal taxa in a Mediterranean biodiversity hotspot. Spatial modelling methods were employed to relate the completeness of inventories to population, road and protected area density. The completeness of faunistic inventories was correlated with the amount of protected areas, roads and population density. Despite more than 200 years of faunistic sampling, knowledge of the distributions of most animal taxa is still limited, especially for invertebrates. As the window of opportunity for achieving Aichi Targets 11 and 19 begins to close, means of filling such knowledge gaps are required. We argue that a combination of quantitative tools and citizen science data collection programmes may help inform conservation decisions.
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