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Although large reserve networks will be integral components in successful biodiversity conservation, implementation of such systems is hindered by the confusion over the relative importance of endemism and species richness. There is evidence (Prendergast et al. 1993) that regions with high richness for a taxon tend to be different from those with high endemism. I tested this finding using distribution and richness data for 368 species from Mammalia, Lasioglossum, Plusiinae, and Papilionidae. The study area, subdivided into 336 quadrats, was the continuous area of North America north of Mexico. I also tested the hypothesis that the study taxa exhibit similar diversity patterns in North America. I found that endemism and richness patterns within taxa were generally similar. Therefore, the controversy over the relative importance of endemism and species richness may not be necessary if an individual taxon were the target of conservation efforts. I also found, however, that richness and endemism patterns were not generally similar between taxa. Therefore, centering nature reserves around areas that are important for mammal diversity (the umbrella species concept) may lead to large gaps in the overall protection of biodiversity because the diversity and endemism of other taxa tend to be concentrated elsewhere. I investigated this further by selecting four regions in North America that might form the basis of a hypothetical reserve system for Carnivora. I analyzed the distribution of the invertebrate taxa relative to these regions and found that this preliminary carnivore reserve system did not provide significantly different protection for these invertebrates than randomly selected quadrats. I conclude that the use of Carnivora as an umbrella taxon is an unreliable method for invertebrate conservation.
Conservation Biology © 1997 Wiley