Conservation planners use several methods to select conservation target areas. These include the use of umbrella species for large area requirements, site-specific locations of important biodiversity elements, and indications of ecosystem health. We tested the adequacy of using an umbrella species to represent finer-scale biodiversity elements on 45,205 km2 of the central coast of California. A network of core and linkages for mountain lion (Puma concolor [Kerr]) was developed and 22,069 km2, or 49% of the region, was selected. We analyzed network representation of a variety of biodiversity elements. The conservation network contained between 8% and 27% of five different endangered species locations in the region. It captured 77% of mapped serpentine rock, a surrogate for rare plants, 88% of the old-growth redwood (Sequoia sempervirens [(D. Don) Endl.]), 55% of the The Nature Conservancy conservation portfolio areas, a surrogate for biodiversity, a majority of three types of oak woodlands, and 79% of the watersheds with extant steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) populations. The mountain lion network more than proportionally represented most of the biodiversity elements examined. However, endemic amphibian, reptile, and mammal populations were less than proportionally represented, suggesting the need for testing levels of biodiversity representation in conservation designs that are based on carnivore habitat. We discuss implications for conservation plans based on this approach, and the potential synergies of linking aquatic health assessments with terrestrial umbrella species for conservation planning. Finally, we discuss the rankings of cores and corridors in the region.
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