Determining conservation priority areas for Palearctic passerine migrant birds in sub-Saharan Africa
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Migratory bird species breeding in the Palearctic and overwintering in sub-Saharan Africa face multiple conservation challenges. As a result, many of these species have declined in recent decades, some dramatically. We therefore used the best available database for the distribution of 68 passerine migrants in sub-Saharan Africa to determine priority regions for their conservation. After modeling each species’ distribution using BIOMOD software, we entered the resulting species distributions at a 1° × 1° grid resolution into MARXAN software. We then used several different selection procedures that varied the boundary length modifier, species penalty factor, and the inclusion of grid cells with high human footprint and with protected areas. While results differed between selection procedures, four main regions were regularly selected: (1) one centered on southern Mali; (2) one including Eritrea, central Sudan, and northern Ethiopia; (3) one encompassing southwestern Kenya and much of Tanzania and Uganda; and (4) one including much of Zimbabwe and southwestern Zambia. We recommend that these four regions become priority regions for research and conservation efforts for the bird species considered in this study.