The selection of protected areas in the face of fluctuating populations
Protected areas are an integral part of the majority of national conservation strategies, and are seen by many as the most practical means of safeguarding biological diversity. Nonetheless, many such areas exist in name only or have been awarded protected status for their lack of economic potential rather than any genuine biological significance. Given the imminent extinction crisis it is essential that networks of protected areas are fully representative of key elements of biodiversity. To achieve this goal not only requires the efficient and effective selection of novel protected area networks, but also the regular evaluation of the current situation as regards existing/established networks, to identify and ultimately rectify possible weaknesses and gaps in coverage. Despite increasingly urgent calls for the development and application of comprehensive protected area evaluation systems, analyses of this type remain rare, particularly regarding the number of individuals sustained over time. This thesis provides an in-depth analysis of the status of the existing network of wetland sites identified as nationally/internationally important for their wintering waterbird populations (Special Protection Areas and Ramsar Sites) in Great Britain. In addition, the aim is to examine the distribution patterns and population dynamics of selected waterbird species, and their implications for the selection and management of these wetland protected areas both in Great Britain and across the European Union; to examine the effectiveness and utility of alternative site selection methods, in particular the use of linear programming techniques, for real-world conservation issues; to provide suggestions for the improvement of the current network of protected areas both in Great Britain and across the European Union; and to provide recommendations and suggestions for waterbird conservation in general.