A quantitative process for the conservation analysis of 179 endangered birds of China is presented. At first, for each bird species its conservation priority status was assessed by calculating its conservation priority index (CPI), using six protection attributes (e.g. extinction risk, taxonomic uniqueness, public appeal). Second, based on the birds' conservation status, prioritisation by alternative approaches was performed. A hotspot score, a heuristic and an optimisation approach were used. The territory of China was divided into 583 grid cells (1° ×1°). The efficiency of the current network of protected areas was tested by comparing it with data obtained from prioritization. Analyses indicated that 28 species should be classified as highest conservation priorities, 13 of them were recommended for inclusion to the national wildlife protection list. The optimisation method for area selection was shown to be superior to the heuristic and hotspot approaches, since it selected more currently unreserved high priority areas whilst keeping the total number of sites low. It is proposed that seven Important Bird Areas (IBA's) should be added to the current protected area network. The suggested avian conservation assessment procedure can identify previously overlooked endangered bird species and candidate priority areas for conservation throughout comparative approaches.
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Vol. 42 • No. 2