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Di Fonzo MMI, HP Possingham, WJM Probert, JR Bennett, LN Joseph, AIT Tulloch, S O'Connor, J Densem and RF Maloney (2015) Evaluating trade-offs between target persistence levels and numbers of species conserved. CONSERVATION LETTERS (Accepted Article Online)

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A focus of conservation planning is to maximise the probability of species persistence, but this may reduce the number of species that can be secured with a limited budget. Using a dataset of 700 New Zealand species, we examine the trade-off between providing a high level of persistence for some species and a lower level of persistence for more species. We find that the target persistence level that delivers the highest conservation outcome is a function of the annual budget, such that lower budgets have lower optimal targets. However, it is never optimal to manage species below a 75% probability of persistence. We introduce a prioritization approach that maximizes biodiversity gains based on a flexible persistence target, and demonstrate how strategies with fixed high persistence targets can be inefficient. We also illustrate the risks in spreading conservation resources too thinly by undertaking low levels of management on more species.