Evaluating the Important Bird Areas Network in India from a Biogeographic and Conservation Perspective
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The Important Bird Areas network comprises several hundred localities that contain high levels of bird diversity. Many of the Important Bird Areas (IBAs) exist within larger regions known as Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs). Given the rapid industrialization and population growth of India, it is imperative to preserve the natural areas and unique biodiversity of the nation. We undertook a study to evaluate whether IBAs in each of seven EBAs adequately represented the regional endemic bird faunas. We examined statistical associations between endemic bird diversity and factors such as IBA land area, habitat variety, local climate, land use practices, and geographic location. Well-known principles and patterns from biogeography suggest that these factors should influence endemic bird diversity. Linear regression and probit regression models were used for data analysis. Although area and habitat variety positively influenced IBA endemic bird diversity, no single factor had a consistent and dominant effect in every EBA. Rather, several factors were jointly associated with diversity, and they varied for each EBA. Because no single factor is strongly associated with diversity, we recommend that a holistic approach be taken during the planning process wherein new IBAs are located or designated based on multiple factors.