The value of time-series data for conservation planning.
Protected areas (PAs) are increasingly being used world-wide for the conservation and management of wildlife. Systematic conservation planning (SCP) aims at ensuring biodiversity persistence while minimizing the threats faced by the species and/or the economic costs related to protection. To account for spatio-temporal interactions between species and human threats, conservation planning for mobile wildlife requires time-series data derived from monitoring of species and human threats, a process that is costly and technically challenging. Therefore, assessments of the monitoring period needed to ensure sufficient data input in the design of efficient, adequate and representative networks of PAs are crucial. We demonstrated the value of time-series data in conservation planning by implementing SCP and data from different monitoring periods to identify priority conservation areas for highly mobile marine megafauna accounting for their main threat: commercial fishing. Two analyses of 10 reserve-design scenarios each, replicated as many times as the data composing each scenario permitted were run in Marxan. The best solutions of the planning scenarios were statistically compared using the Cohen's Kappa test. We also assessed differences in spatial similarity among and within scenarios using the Wilcoxon nonparametric test and a non-metric multidimensional scaling analysis. Finally, we compared the necessary cost and the area selected for each scenario. Our study highlights the importance of time-series ecological and socioeconomic data for the robust selection of priority conservation areas. The results revealed different thresholds of the minimum temporal data required to design efficient networks of PAs for highly mobile species, demonstrating that the incorporation of data covering longer periods to the scenarios produce a more robust selection of priority conservation areas. Conservation plans using data covering <3 years were missing important priority areas. Synthesis and applications. We provide a method for estimating the minimum number of years of monitoring required to design efficient networks of protected areas that ensure the persistence of highly mobile species such as cetaceans and seabirds. This method can be used within an adaptive management framework to evaluate whether a network of protected areas performs as planned, and to test whether management strategies should be altered or adjusted in response to local and global changes.