Spatial attributes and reserve design models: A review

Justin C. Williams, Charles S. ReVelle, Simon Asher Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

215 Scopus citations


A variety of decision models have been formulated for the optimal selection of nature reserve sites to represent a diversity of species or other conservation features. Unfortunately, many of these models tend to select scattered sites and do not take into account important spatial attributes such as reserve shape and connectivity. These attributes are likely to affect not only the persistence of species but also the general ecological functioning of reserves and the ability to effectively manage them. In response, researchers have begun formulating reserve design models that improve spatial coherence by controlling spatial attributes. We review the spatial attributes that are thought to be important in reserve design and also review reserve design models that incorporate one or more of these attributes. Spatial modeling issues, computational issues, and the trade-offs among competing optimization objectives are discussed. Directions for future research are identified. Ultimately, an argument is made for the development of models that capture the dynamic interdependencies among sites and species populations and thus incorporate the reasons why spatial attributes are important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-181
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Modeling and Assessment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)


  • Biological conservation
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Reserve design
  • Spatial optimization


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