Publication of the Azorean Biodiversity Group evaluates the disturbance level of Azorean protected areas

Gaspar, C., Gaston, K.J., Borges, P.A.V. & Cardoso, P. (2011). Selection of priority areas for arthropod conservation in the Azores archipelago. Journal of Insect Conservation, 15: 671–684

The largest standardised database available to date for arthropods in native forests of the Azores archipelago was used to determine the minimum optimal set of native forest fragments needed to accomplish four different targets of species occurrence (presence-absence) and abundance (20, 50 and 80%) using different groups of arthropods and all data combined. The results showed that occurrence and 20% abundance targets gave similar optimal solutions for most of the groups considered. At least one fragment on each of the seven studied islands was required to accomplish any occurrence and abundance target. To achieve 80% of abundance for all species, all fragments were necessary and to guarantee 50% of the overall abundance of endemics, 17 out of 18 native forests were needed. A suggestion is made to apply a measure of biotic integrity related to disturbance to select, among alternative optimal solutions, the set of areas that will help to guarantee the viability of populations. Some guidelines for the selection of priority areas for conservation in the Azores are presented

The most disturbed study sites in the Azores were found on the islands of Faial (Cabeço do Fogo), Flores (Caldeiras Funda e Rasa), Pico (Lagoa do Caiado), São Jorge (Pico Pinheiro), São Miguel (Atalhada, Graminhais, Pico da Vara), Santa Maria (Pico Alto) and Terceira (Algar do Carvão, Matela, Pico do Galhardo), while the pristine areas were on Terceira (Terra Brava, Biscoito da Ferraria, Caldeira da Serra de Santa Bárbara), Pico (Caveiro, Mistério da Prainha) and Flores (Morro Alto e Pico da Sé) islands