Predicting biodiversity change and averting collapse in agricultural landscapes

Mendenhall, CD, Karp, DS, Meyer, CFJ, Hadly, EA and Daily, GC 2014, 'Predicting biodiversity change and averting collapse in agricultural landscapes' , Nature, 509 (7499) , pp. 213-217.

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Abstract

The equilibrium theory of island biogeography1 is the basis for estimating extinction rates2 and a pillar of conservation science3,4. The default strategy for conserving biodiversity is the designation of nature reserves, treated as islands in an inhospitable sea of human activity5. Despite the profound influence of islands on conservation theory and practice3,4, theirmainland analogues, forest fragments in human-dominated landscapes, consistently defy expected biodiversity patterns based on island biogeography theory6–13. Countryside biogeography is an alternative framework, which recognizes that the fate of the world’s wildlife will be decided largely by the hospitality of agricultural or countryside ecosystems12,14–17.Herewedirectly test these biogeographic theories by comparing a Neotropical countryside ecosystem with a nearby island ecosystem, and show that each supports similar bat biodiversity in fundamentally different ways. The island ecosystem conforms to island biogeographic predictions of bat species loss, in which the water matrix is not habitat. In contrast, the countryside ecosystem has high species richness and evenness across forest reserves and smaller forest fragments. Relative to forest reserves and fragments, deforested countryside habitat supports a less species-rich, yet equally even, bat assemblage. Moreover, the bat assemblage associated with deforested habitat is compositionally novel because of predictable changes in abundances by many species using human-made habitat. Finally,we perform a global meta-analysis of bat biogeographic studies, spanning more than 700 species. It generalizes our findings, showing that separate biogeographic theories for countryside and islandecosystems are necessary. A theory of countryside biogeography is essential to conservation strategy in the agricultural ecosystems that comprise roughly half of the global land surface and are likely to increase even further14.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences > Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Nature
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 0028-0836
Related URLs:
Funders: Winslow Foundation, the Moore Family Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service, the German Science Foundation, Peter and Helen Bing, Ralph and Louise Haberfeld, and a Restoration Workshop Research Grant through the Las Cruces Biological Station
Depositing User: Dr Christoph Meyer
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2016 11:28
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2017 02:16
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/37804

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