Assessing gaps in protected areas of Brazil

Study finds major gaps in taxonomic and phylogenetic coverage of Brazilian protected areas

Data resources used via GBIF : 659,062 species occurrences
Jaguar (Panthera onca) by Jonathan Campbell via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Brazil is among the countries that hold the largest share of Earth's species: the megadiverse countries. Protecting ecosystems is a priority and the country has invested significantly in expanding its network of protected areas. However, the extent to which these areas help protect biodiversity is unknown.

In a study of gaps in protected areas in Brazil, researchers built a database of vertebrate, arthropod and angiosperm species occurrences mainly from, mapping these against protected areas to quantity sampling effort. They also reconstructed phylogenetic trees of Brazilian taxa in order to identify patterns of evolutionary lineages.

The study found that less than one percent of protected areas are well sampled, and as many as 50 per cent are not sampled at all. For Brazilian biodiversity, more than 50 per cent of species and 40 percent of evolutionary lineages are found outside protected areas. Modelling distributions showed that less than 40 per cent of median species distributions overlap with protected areas.

These findings combined suggest a need for increased sampling and protection priorities based on inventories and biodiversity analyses.

Link to original article

Oliveira U, Soares-Filho BS, Paglia AP, Brescovit AD, de Carvalho CJB, Silva DP, Rezende DT, Leite FSF, Batista JAN, Barbosa JPPP, Stehmann JR, Ascher JS, de Vasconcelos MF, De Marco P, Löwenberg-Neto P, Ferro VG and Santos AJ (2017) Biodiversity conservation gaps in the Brazilian protected areas. Scientific Reports. Springer Nature 7(1). Available at: