A modified GAP analysis using Israel vertebrates

Gap Analysis for Israel: Identifying Hot Spots of Endangered Vertebrate Species
Amit Dolev1, Ayelet Sapir1 and Yohay Carmel
1 the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel
View report (Hebrew) here.
View presentation (Hebrew) here

Protected areas are a major means for the protection of biodiversity. However, species are not confined to protected areas, and often, the majority of endangered species’ distribution are in un-protected land. In order to locate areas that are crucial for the protection of species currently unprotected, the GAP analysis method is used regularly in many places for more than a decade. In principle, GAP analyses the cumulative species distributions against current distribution of protected areas. The product of this method is a map denoting land value in protecting species of the group under inspection.

The current study applies GAP analysis to the entire state of Israel, while proposing and testing  a significant improvement in the method. The original approach was meant to offer protection to all species, and analyses included distributions of all species, even the most common. In contrast, our approach is that, of the entire areas, we should concentrate on those areas that protection would yield maximum ‘gain’ in species conservation. Thus, we need to concentrate on endangered species only, and particularly, focus on those species that existing reserves do not protect.

This study uses distribution maps of endangered vertebrates, taken from the red book of Israel Vertebrates. We compared two alternatives. In the first, we used all endangered species for which distribution maps were available (128 species). In the second alternative, only species that 0.6 or more of their distribution was  unprotected were included (68 species) in the model. In both alternatives, maps of species richness were constructed, . in order to focus on gap areas, we excluded protected areas as well as areas already built or assigned for building. The resulting maps show the areas that are most crucial as land resources for large numbers of endangered species and allows ranking these areas.