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Article
The relevance of wetland conservation in arid regions: A reexamination of vanishing communities in the American Southwest
Journal of Arid Environments (2013)
  • Thomas Minckley, University of Wyoming
Abstract

Desert wetlands, or ciénegas, are regions of high conservation value in the American Deserts. These environments, in the Apache Highlands Ecoregion spanning the borderlands of Arizona, USA and Sonora, México, contain an estimated 19% of endangered, threatened and candidate species within 2% of the regional area. Besides being crucial refugia for native fish, amphibians, snails, and plants, ciénegas constitute critical habitat for migratory birds. Here we analyze the distribution, conservation status and restoration potential of ciénegas in this region. Our results identified 97 ciénegas of which only 60 had information useful for our analysis. Of these, 46 ciénegas were considered functional, or extant, while the others were either dry or so altered that they no longer maintained their original ecological function. Using the ranking scheme of the National Gap Analysis Program we found that 80% of extant ciénegas fall into the lowest categories of land stewardship, Gap 3 or 4, indicating conservation stewardship is largely lacking across all land management agencies, public or private. Our assessment suggests that increased and targeted habitat conservation of desert wetlands would yield great benefit to the maintenance of global biodiversity.

Keywords
  • Arid region wetlands,
  • Conservation prioritization,
  • Endangered species,
  • Endemic species,
  • Migration corridors,
  • Refugia,
  • Ciénega
Publication Date
2013
Citation Information
Thomas Minckley. "The relevance of wetland conservation in arid regions: A reexamination of vanishing communities in the American Southwest" Journal of Arid Environments Vol. 88 (2013)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/thomas_minckley/3/