International collaboration can be crucial in determining the outcomes of conservation actions. Here, we propose a framework for incorporating demographic, socioeconomic, and political data into conservation prioritization in complex regions shared by multiple countries. As a case study, we quantitatively apply this approach to one of the world's most complex and threatened biodiversity hotspots: the Mediterranean Basin. Our analysis of 22 countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea showed that the strongest economic, trade, tourism, and political ties are clearly among the three northwestern countries of Italy, France, and Spain. Although economic activity between countries is often seen as a threat, it may also serve as an indicator of the potential of collaboration in conservation. Using data for threatened marine vertebrate species, we show how areas prioritized for conservation shift spatially when economic factors are used as a surrogate to favor areas where collaborative potential in conservation is more likely.
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Vol. 63 • No. 7