Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological diversity is being threatened by the encroachment of humans, which limits the habitat available for conservation and strains resources allocated for conservation efforts. However conservation goals have to be achieved within these limitations. Conservation priorities can ensure that habitat and resources are used effectively and efficiently. I developed a conservation prioritization plan for the terrestrial vertebrates of Kansas. I used modeled distributions of every terrestrial vertebrate species found in Kansas to build three biodiversity indices; species richness, vulnerability, and endemicity. Kansas was divided into a grid of planning units, 34.5 km2. For each taxonomic group the planning units were ranked using an algorithm that incorporated complementarity. Planning units with high ranks were considered high priority for conservation efforts. Comparing the planning unit ranks to the planning unit ranks with existing reserves prioritized tested the effectiveness of existing Kansas reserves. For amphibians, vulnerable birds, and vulnerable mammals including existing reserves in a conservation plan is an effective start. I did a post hoc threat analysis to assess the persistence of biodiversity and status of natural habitats in ranked planning units. Places with conservation value for all four taxonomic groups had low amounts of agricultural threat but high amounts of urbanization. For vulnerable birds and reptiles, high ranked planning units contain high amounts of agriculture but low amounts of urbanization. High ranked planning units, for vulnerable mammals, contain low amounts of agriculture but high amounts of urbanization. Having a conservation plan based on priorities can help guide management and conservation decisions as opportunities become available and as situations change.


Dr. Rob Channell

Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type



© 2012 Megan Rohweder


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