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Prioritizing conservation targets in a rapidly urbanizing landscape
We used an optimization modeling framework to devise spatially explicit habitat acquisition and restoration strategies for 19 remnant-dependent butterflies in a rapidly urbanizing county in the Chicago area. We first identified the smallest sets of protected sites that would contain at least one population of each species, and two populations for species present in multiple sites. We then identified undeveloped properties contiguous with these sites whose acquisition would further enhance conditions for focal species. Next, we considered parcels in the surrounding landscape that could potentially be acquired and restored to provide additional habitat. Assuming that the conservation value of additional habitats would increase with their proximity to protected sites, we examined tradeoffs between distance to sites and the cost of acquisition and restoration.