Main Conclusions (main + conclusion)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

BIODIVERSITY RESEARCH: Native-exotic species richness relationships across spatial scales and biotic homogenization in wetland plant communities of Illinois, USA

Hua Chen
Abstract Aim, To examine native-exotic species richness relationships across spatial scales and corresponding biotic homogenization in wetland plant communities. Location, Illinois, USA. Methods, We analysed the native-exotic species richness relationship for vascular plants at three spatial scales (small, 0.25 m2 of sample area; medium, 1 m2 of sample area; large, 5 m2 of sample area) in 103 wetlands across Illinois. At each scale, Spearman's correlation coefficient between native and exotic richness was calculated. We also investigated the potential for biotic homogenization by comparing all species surveyed in a wetland community (from the large sample area) with the species composition in all other wetlands using paired comparisons of their Jaccard's and Simpson's similarity indices. Results, At large and medium scales, native richness was positively correlated with exotic richness, with the strength of the correlation decreasing from the large to the medium scale; at the smallest scale, the native-exotic richness correlation was negative. The average value for homogenization indices was 0.096 and 0.168, using Jaccard's and Simpson's indices, respectively, indicating that these wetland plant communities have been homogenized because of invasion by exotic species. Main Conclusions, Our study demonstrated a clear shift from a positive to a negative native-exotic species richness relationship from larger to smaller spatial scales. The negative native-exotic richness relationship that we found is suggested to result from direct biotic interactions (competitive exclusion) between native and exotic species, whereas positive correlations likely reflect the more prominent influence of habitat heterogeneity on richness at larger scales. Our finding of homogenization at the community level extends conclusions from previous studies having found this pattern at much larger spatial scales. Furthermore, these results suggest that even while exhibiting a positive native-exotic richness relationship, community level biotas can/are still being homogenized because of exotic species invasion. [source]

The geography of climate change: implications for conservation biogeography

D. D. Ackerly
Abstract Aim, Climate change poses significant threats to biodiversity, including impacts on species distributions, abundance and ecological interactions. At a landscape scale, these impacts, and biotic responses such as adaptation and migration, will be mediated by spatial heterogeneity in climate and climate change. We examine several aspects of the geography of climate change and their significance for biodiversity conservation. Location, California and Nevada, USA. Methods, Using current climate surfaces (PRISM) and two scenarios of future climate (A1b, 2070,2099, warmer-drier and warmer-wetter), we mapped disappearing, declining, expanding and novel climates, and the velocity and direction of climate change in California and Nevada. We also examined fine-scale spatial heterogeneity in protected areas of the San Francisco Bay Area in relation to reserve size, topographic complexity and distance from the ocean. Results, Under the two climate change scenarios, current climates across most of California and Nevada will shrink greatly in extent, and the climates of the highest peaks will disappear from this region. Expanding and novel climates are projected for the Central Valley. Current temperature isoclines are projected to move up to 4.9 km year,1 in flatter regions, but substantially slower in mountainous areas because of steep local topoclimate gradients. In the San Francisco Bay Area, climate diversity within currently protected areas increases with reserve size and proximity to the ocean (the latter because of strong coastal climate gradients). However, by 2100 of almost 500 protected areas (>100 ha), only eight of the largest are projected to experience temperatures within their currently observed range. Topoclimate variability will further increase the range of conditions experienced and needs to be incorporated in future analyses. Main Conclusions, Spatial heterogeneity in climate, from mesoclimate to topoclimate scales, represents an important spatial buffer in response to climate change, and merits increased attention in conservation planning. [source]

Phylogenetic relatedness and plant invader success across two spatial scales

Marc W. Cadotte
ABSTRACT Aim, Successful invaders often possess similar ecological traits that contribute to success in new regions, and thus under niche conservatism, invader success should be phylogenetically clustered. We asked if the degree to which non-native plant species are phylogenetically related is a predictor of invasion success at two spatial scales. Location, Australia , the whole continent and Royal National Park (south-eastern Australia). Methods, We used non-native plant species occupancy in Royal National Park, as well as estimated continental occupancy of these species from herbarium records. We then estimated phylogenetic relationships using molecular data from three gene sequences available on GenBank (matK, rbcL and ITS1). We tested for phylogenetic signals in occupancy using Blomberg's K. Results, Whereas most non-native plants were relatively scarce, there was a strong phylogenetic signal for continental occupancy, driven by the clustering of successful species in Asteraceae, Caryophyllaceae, Poaceae and Solanaceae. However, we failed to detect a phylogenetic signal at the park scale. Main Conclusions, Our results reveal that at a large spatial scale, invader success is phylogenetically clustered where ecological traits promoting success appear to be shared among close relatives, indicating that phylogenetic relationships can be useful predictors of invasion success at large spatial scales. At a smaller, landscape scale, there was no evidence of phylogenetic clustering of invasion success, and thus, relatedness plays a much reduced role in determining the relative success of invaders. [source]

Range-wide patterns of greater sage-grouse persistence

Cameron L. Aldridge
ABSTRACT Aim, Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus), a shrub-steppe obligate species of western North America, currently occupies only half its historical range. Here we examine how broad-scale, long-term trends in landscape condition have affected range contraction. Location, Sagebrush biome of the western USA. Methods, Logistic regression was used to assess persistence and extirpation of greater sage-grouse range based on landscape conditions measured by human population (density and population change), vegetation (percentage of sagebrush habitat), roads (density of and distance to roads), agriculture (cropland, farmland and cattle density), climate (number of severe and extreme droughts) and range periphery. Model predictions were used to identify areas where future extirpations can be expected, while also explaining possible causes of past extirpations. Results, Greater sage-grouse persistence and extirpation were significantly related to sagebrush habitat, cultivated cropland, human population density in 1950, prevalence of severe droughts and historical range periphery. Extirpation of sage-grouse was most likely in areas having at least four persons per square kilometre in 1950, 25% cultivated cropland in 2002 or the presence of three or more severe droughts per decade. In contrast, persistence of sage-grouse was expected when at least 30 km from historical range edge and in habitats containing at least 25% sagebrush cover within 30 km. Extirpation was most often explained (35%) by the combined effects of peripherality (within 30 km of range edge) and lack of sagebrush cover (less than 25% within 30 km). Based on patterns of prior extirpation and model predictions, we predict that 29% of remaining range may be at risk. Main Conclusions, Spatial patterns in greater sage-grouse range contraction can be explained by widely available landscape variables that describe patterns of remaining sagebrush habitat and loss due to cultivation, climatic trends, human population growth and peripherality of populations. However, future range loss may relate less to historical mechanisms and more to recent changes in land use and habitat condition, including energy developments and invasions by non-native species such as cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and West Nile virus. In conjunction with local measures of population performance, landscape-scale predictions of future range loss may be useful for prioritizing management and protection. Our results suggest that initial conservation efforts should focus on maintaining large expanses of sagebrush habitat, enhancing quality of existing habitats, and increasing habitat connectivity. [source]

The evolutionary species pool hypothesis and patterns of freshwater diatom diversity along a pH gradient

Jason Pither
Abstract Aim, To interpret the unimodal relationship between diatom species richness and lake pH within the context of the evolutionary species pool hypothesis (SPH). We test the following primary prediction arising from the SPH: the size of the potential species pool (PSP) will increase along a gradient representing the historical commonness of different pH environments (pH commonness). To do this we assume that the present-day spatial dominance of near-neutral pH conditions compared with acidic and alkaline conditions reliably mimics the relative spatial availabilities of historical pH conditions among freshwater lakes. We also determine whether local richness represents a constant proportion of PSP size along the pH commonness gradient. Location, Two hundred and thirty-four lakes distributed over a 405,000 km2 region of the north-eastern United States of America. Methods, Sediment diatom morphospecies lists and pH data were acquired from the US Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) website. Using 248 morphospecies that occurred in at least 10 of the 234 lakes, four different measures of PSPs were calculated along the pH gradient. Local species richness was equated with the number of species occurring within the lake. Alpha diversity was equated with the average species richness of lakes with similar pH values. A combination of statistical methods were employed, including correlations, quadratic regression and piecewise regression. Results, PSP size increased significantly with pH commonness for all four measures of PSP size, thus supporting the primary prediction of the evolutionary SPH. Local richness comprised a larger proportion of the PSP within acidic lakes than within circumneutral lakes. Alpha diversity and lake species richness both increased significantly with pH commonness, but the former did so in a two-step fashion. We test and reject several alternative contemporary time-scale explanations for our findings. Main Conclusions, Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that diatom taxonomic richness is presently lower within acidic and highly alkaline lakes than in circumneutral lakes owing to the limited opportunity in space and/or time for the evolution of suitably adapted species. Whereas ecological processes can explain why certain species are excluded from particular habitats, e.g. acidic lakes, they cannot account for why so few species are adapted to those habitats in the first place. [source]

The flora of the South Sandwich Islands, with particular reference to the influence of geothermal heating

P. Convey
Abstract Aim, To carry out as comprehensive a survey as practicable of the flora (higher plants, mosses, liverworts, lichens, basidiomycete fungi and diatoms) of the isolated, volcanically active, South Sandwich Islands archipelago in the southern South Atlantic. To relate the components of this flora to (1) the influence of local geothermal heating and (2) wider regional floras. Location, South Sandwich Islands, southern South Atlantic Ocean, maritime Antarctic (56,60° S, 26,28° W). Methods, Ice-free accessible sites on all 11 of the major islands in the archipelago were visited by helicopter in January 1997. During each visit, voucher specimens of each floral group were collected. The comprehensiveness of collections obtained at each site varied with the duration of each visit (a function of tight logistic constraints) and extent of site. Visit duration varied from 1 to 9 h at most sites, with longer periods spent on Bellingshausen Island (2 days) and Leskov Island (1 day). Candlemas Island was examined in greater detail over a 4-week period in February 1997. At all sites, particular attention was given to areas influenced by geothermal heating. Results, Data obtained in 1997 are combined with updated records from the only previous survey (in 1964) to provide a baseline description of the flora of the archipelago, which currently includes 1 phanerogam, 38 mosses, 11 liverworts, 5 basidiomycete fungi, 41 lichenised fungi and 16 diatoms with, additionally, several taxa identified only to genus. Major elements of the moss and liverwort floras are composed of South American taxa (32% and 73%, respectively), with a further 45% of mosses having bipolar or cosmopolitan distributions. These two groups show low levels of Antarctic endemicity (11% and 18%, respectively). In contrast, 52% of lichens and 80% of basidiomycete fungi are endemic to the Antarctic. A further 36% of lichens are bipolar/cosmopolitan, with only 5% of South American origin. Main Conclusions, The flora of the South Sandwich Islands is clearly derived from those of other Antarctic zones. The flora of unheated ground is closely related to that of the maritime Antarctic, although with a very limited number of species represented. That of heated ground contains both maritime and sub-Antarctic elements, confirming the importance of geothermal heating for successful colonisation of the latter group. The occurrence of several maritime Antarctic species only on heated ground confirms the extreme severity of the archipelago's climate in comparison with well-studied sites much further south in this biogeographical zone. [source]

Plant species and growth form richness along altitudinal gradients in the southwest Ethiopian highlands

Wana Desalegn
Abstract Questions: Do growth forms and vascular plant richness follow similar patterns along an altitudinal gradient? What are the driving mechanisms that structure richness patterns at the landscape scale? Location: Southwest Ethiopian highlands. Methods: Floristic and environmental data were collected from 74 plots, each covering 400 m2. The plots were distributed along altitudinal gradients. Boosted regression trees were used to derive the patterns of richness distribution along altitudinal gradients. Results: Total vascular plant richness did not show any strong response to altitude. Contrasting patterns of richness were observed for several growth forms. Woody, graminoid and climber species richness showed a unimodal structure. However, each of these morphological groups had a peak of richness at different altitudes: graminoid species attained maximum importance at a lower elevations, followed by climbers and finally woody species at higher elevations. Fern species richness increased monotonically towards higher altitudes, but herbaceous richness had a dented structure at mid-altitudes. Soil sand fraction, silt, slope and organic matter were found to contribute a considerable amount of the predicted variance of richness for total vascular plants and growth forms. Main Conclusions: Hump-shaped species richness patterns were observed for several growth forms. A mid-altitudinal richness peak was the result of a combination of climate-related water,energy dynamics, species,area relationships and local environmental factors, which have direct effects on plant physiological performance. However, altitude represents the composite gradient of several environmental variables that were interrelated. Thus, considering multiple gradients would provide a better picture of richness and the potential mechanisms responsible for the distribution of biodiversity in high-mountain regions of the tropics. [source]

BIODIVERSITY RESEARCH: Population expansion in an invasive grass, Microstegium vimineum: a test of the channelled diffusion model

Nathaniel P. Miller
Abstract Aim, The greatest biodiversity impact of non-native plant species is caused by rapid expansion of colonist populations. Unfortunately, invasion has rarely been documented in real time at a population scale, and demographic mechanisms of invasion remain unclear. Our goal is to describe real-time expansion of populations, using channelled diffusion as a null model. Location, The study examined three populations of the invasive annual grass Microstegium vimineum in mature second-growth forests of south-eastern Ohio and nearby West Virginia, USA. Methods, Distributions were recorded in belt transects perpendicular to population edges over a period of 3 years. A second group of belt transects documented spread along five types of potential movement corridor. Observed changes in distribution were compared with predictions from a diffusion model. A seed-sowing experiment tested seed availability, microsite quality and proximity to potential movement corridors as factors controlling population spread. Results, Population boundaries showed little change over the study period. Colonization was limited by propagule availability over distances as little as 0.25 m, and to a lesser extent by litter cover. Populations did not advance along several potential movement corridors including unpaved roads, off-road vehicle trails and footpaths. Advance was observed along deer trails and stream courses but did not conform to the wave-form distribution predicted by diffusion theory. During the study, seeds were moved out of experimental plots by sheet flow and minor flooding events along small streams. Main conclusion, At a population level, invasion is driven by processes that are episodic in time and non-random in space , probably a common condition in non-native plant species. Spatially realistic models are likely to be more useful than diffusive models in managing invasions at these scales. [source]

Genetic diversity of endangered brown bear (Ursus arctos) populations at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa

Sébastien Calvignac
Abstract Aim, Middle East brown bears (Ursus arctos syriacus Hemprich and Ehrenberg, 1828) are presently on the edge of extinction. However, little is known of their genetic diversity. This study investigates that question as well as that of Middle East brown bear relationships to surrounding populations of the species. Location, Middle East region of south-western Asia. Methods, We performed DNA analyses on 27 brown bear individuals. Twenty ancient bone samples (Late Pleistocene to 20th century) from natural populations and seven present-day samples obtained from captive individuals were analysed. Results, Phylogenetic analyses of the mitochondrial sequences obtained from seven ancient specimens identify three distinct maternal clades, all unrelated to one recently described from North Africa. Brown bears from Iran exhibit striking diversity (three individuals, three haplotypes) and form a unique clade that cannot be linked to any extant one. Individuals from Syria belong to the Holarctic clade now observed in Eastern Europe, Turkey, Japan and North America. Specimens from Lebanon surprisingly appear as tightly linked to the clade of brown bears now in Western Europe. Moreover, we show that U. a. syriacus in captivity still harbour haplotypes closely linked to those found in ancient individuals. Main conclusion, This study brings important new information on the genetic diversity of brown bear populations at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. It reveals a high level of diversity in Middle East brown bears and extends the historical distribution of the Western European clade to the East. Our analyses also suggest the value of a specific breeding programme for captive populations. [source]

Landscape composition influences patterns of native and exotic lady beetle abundance

M. M. Gardiner
Abstract Aim, Coccinellid beetles are important predators that contribute to pest suppression in agricultural landscapes. Since the introduction of the exotic coccinellids Coccinella septempunctata L. and Harmonia axyridis Pallas into the USA, several studies have reported a decline of native Coccinellidae in agroecosystems. We aimed to investigate the influence of landscape composition on native and exotic coccinellid abundance within soybean fields. Location, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Methods, As part of a 2-year study (2005,06) on the biological control of the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura, we examined coccinellid communities in 33 soybean fields using yellow sticky card traps. Landscape heterogeneity and composition were measured at multiple spatial scales ranging 1,3.5 km from focal soybean fields where coccinellid sampling took place. Results, Exotic species made up 90% of the total coccinellid community in Michigan soybean fields followed by Wisconsin (84%), Minnesota (66%) and Iowa (57%). Harmonia axyridis was the dominant exotic coccinellid in all states comprising 45,62% of the total coccinellid community, followed by C. septempunctata (13,30%). Two additional exotic species, Hippodamia variegata (Goeze) and Propylea quatuordecimpunctata (L.) were also found in the region. Overall, the most abundant native coccinellid was Hippodamia convergens Guerin-Meneville; however, its abundance varied across the region, comprising 0% (Michigan) to 28% (Iowa) of the total coccinellid community. Landscape structure significantly influenced the composition of coccinellid communities in soybean agroecosystems. We found that native coccinellids were most abundant in low-diversity landscapes with an abundance of grassland habitat while exotic coccinellids were associated with the abundance of forested habitats. Main conclusion, We propose that grassland dominated landscapes with low structural diversity and low amounts of forested habitat may be resistant to exotic coccinellid build-up, particularly H. axyridis and therefore represent landscape-scale refuges for native coccinellid biodiversity. [source]

From introduction to the establishment of alien species: bioclimatic differences between presence and reproduction localities in the slider turtle

Gentile Francesco Ficetola
ABSTRACT Aim, Understanding the factors determining the transition from introduction of aliens to the establishment of invasive populations is a critical issue of the study of biological invasions, and has key implications for management. Differences in fitness among areas of introduction can define the zones where aliens become invasive. The American slider turtle Trachemys scripta has been introduced worldwide, and has negative effects on freshwater communities, but only a subset of introduced populations breed successfully. We used species distribution models to assess the factors influencing the slider distribution in Italy, by analysing bioclimatic features that can cause the transition from presence of feral adults to breeding populations. We also evaluated whether climate change might increase the future suitability for reproduction. Location,, Central and Northern Italy. Methods,, The distribution of slider turtle was obtained from the literature, unpublished reports and field surveys. We used Maxent to build bioclimatic models. Results,, Reproductive populations are associated to a clear bioclimatic envelope with warmer climate, more solar radiation and higher precipitations than populations where reproduction is not observed. Several Mediterranean areas currently have climatic features suitable for sliders. Scenarios of climate change predict the expansion of these areas. In the near future (2020), the proportion of populations in areas suitable for reproduction will dramatically increase. Main conclusion,, Our study shows that bioclimatic differences can determine the areas where aliens become invaders. Management should be focused to these source areas. However, climate change can increase fitness in the future, and therefore the interactions between climate change and fitness can boost the invasiveness of this alien species. [source]

Evidence for a lacustrine faunal refuge in the Larsemann Hills, East Antarctica, during the Last Glacial Maximum

Louise Cromer
Abstract Aim, There is no previous direct evidence for the occurrence of lacustrine refuges for invertebrate fauna in Antarctica spanning the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). In the absence of verified LGM lacustrine refuges many species are believed to result from Holocene dispersal from sub-Antarctic islands and continents further north. If freshwater lake environments were present throughout the LGM, extant freshwater species may have been associated with Antarctica prior to this glacial period. This study looked at faunal microfossils in a sediment core from an Antarctic freshwater lake. This lake is unusual in that, unlike most Antarctic lakes, the sediment record extends to c. 130,000 yr bp, i.e. prior to the LGM. Location, Lake Reid, Larsemann Hills, East Antarctica (76°23, E; 69°23, S). Methods, Palaeofaunal communities in Lake Reid were identified through examination of faunal microfossils in a sediment core that extended to c. 130,000 yr bp. Results, Ephippia and mandibles from the cladoceran Daphniopsis studeri and loricae of the rotifer Notholca sp. were found at all depths in the sediment, indicating that these two species have been present in the lake for up to 130,000 years. Copepod mandibles were also present in the older section of the core, yet were absent from the most recent sediments, indicating extinction of this species from Lake Reid during the LGM. Main conclusion, The presence of D. studeri and Notholca sp. microfossils throughout the entire Lake Reid core is the first direct evidence of a glacial lacustrine refugium for invertebrate animals in Antarctica, and indicates the presence of a relict fauna on the Antarctic continent. [source]

Biogeography of the nearshore rocky-reef fishes at the southern and Baja California islands

Daniel J. Pondella II
Abstract Aim, To examine the uniqueness and relationship of islands in the San Diegan Province using reef fishes. Location, Pacific coast of Baja and Southern California. Methods, Quantitative scuba surveys and statistics were used. Between June 2000 and August 2002, the nearshore rocky-reef fishes of eight southern California and Baja California islands were quantitatively surveyed. The islands surveyed were: Santa Cruz, San Nicolas, Santa Barbara, Santa Catalina, San Clemente, North Coronado, San Martin and San Benito. These islands span the latitudinal range of offshore islands within the San Diegan marine province. This regional scale approach provided not only the first quantitative description of rocky-reef fishes at five of these islands, but also allowed comparisons with known biogeographical patterns. Results, Here we discuss the distribution and abundance of 84 conspicuous rocky-reef fishes from 35 families. In general, the richness, diversity and composition of fish assemblages at these islands were found to reflect previously described biogeographical processes. The rocky reef fish assemblages of all islands in the survey were found to be significantly distinctive form each other. Phenetic analyses revealed two clusters. San Clemente, Santa Catalina and North Coronado clustered as a warm-water assemblage in the middle of the San Diegan Province. The remaining islands grouped together as a cold-water assemblage, despite the geographically disjunct position of the islands within this cluster. The relatedness of islands was independent of distance. Examination of the most common fish species at all islands revealed that while some conformed to the north,south trending density distributions predicted by previous investigators, the distribution of others could not be explained by latitude or temperature regimes. No single pattern explained the density of fishes at all islands. Both the rock croaker, Pareques sp., and flag cabrilla, Epinephelus labriformis, were observed at San Benito during these surveys, representing northern range extensions and may be indicators of the warming trend observed in this marine province. Main conclusion, For nearshore rocky-reef fishes, the islands of the San Diegan marine province are distinct and their interrelatedness is independent of the distance between them. [source]

Historical biogeography and distribution of the freshwater cyclopine copepods (Copepoda, Cyclopoida, Cyclopinae) of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Eduardo Suárez-Morales
Abstract Aim, To determine and analyse the distribution of the freshwater cyclopine copepod fauna of the Yucatan Peninsula (YP) and its relationship with the geological and climatic history of this Neotropical karstic zone. Location, The Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Methods, Plotting of georeferenced sites, analysis of local and regional geological and climatic history, analysis and comparison of regional and local faunistic records. Results, Distinct dispersal and/or vicariant processes seem to be linked to the current distributions of the seven genera known in the YP. In general, the endemic hypogean or benthic crevicular forms (i.e. Diacyclops chakan, D. puuc and Mesocyclops chaci), derived from epigean, tropical, widely distributed forms (some of them South American) may have been among the earliest colonizers of the subterranean habitats in the YP. The distribution of these and other endemic forms seem to be related to the Holocene dry periods that desiccated the largest bodies of water and isolated local populations of different species. These vicariant processes resulted in forms with restricted distributional areas; some of these formed sister species that speciated in geographically close localities but related to a common identifiable ancestor. Overall, the processes of cyclopine colonization of the YP show the influence of the South American fauna, as the closest relatives of some species endemic to the YP are South American forms; the Nearctic influence is low. The cyclopine fauna of the YP is formed by a mixture of Nearctic-derived (species of Acanthocyclops), Neotropical (i.e. M. edax, M. longisetus, A. panamensis, Thermocyclops inversus and T. tenuis), and epigean and hypogean endemic forms. The highly dynamic geomorphology of the YP and the recent climatic changes in the Holocene define the YP as a peculiar subregion that harbours a diverse fauna of cyclopine copepods with a high endemism. Main conclusion, The current distribution of cyclopine copepods reflects relatively recent, post-Pliocene biogeographical patterns; probably older patterns are involved as well. The eastern coast of the Yucatan is the most recently colonized by cyclopine copepods. Most of the genera are linked with South American forms, and the Nearctic influence is weakly represented. This group has no marine relatives, but there is evidence of vicariant events involving cave-dwelling forms. [source]

Do we need land-cover data to model species distributions in Europe?

Wilfried Thuiller
Abstract Aim, To assess the influence of land cover and climate on species distributions across Europe. To quantify the importance of land cover to describe and predict species distributions after using climate as the main driver. Location, The study area is Europe. Methods, (1) A multivariate analysis was applied to describe land-cover distribution across Europe and assess if the land cover is determined by climate at large spatial scales. (2) To evaluate the importance of land cover to predict species distributions, we implemented a spatially explicit iterative procedure to predict species distributions of plants (2603 species), mammals (186 species), breeding birds (440 species), amphibian and reptiles (143 species). First, we ran bioclimatic models using stepwise generalized additive models using bioclimatic variables. Secondly, we carried out a regression of land cover (LC) variables against residuals from the bioclimatic models to select the most relevant LC variables. Finally, we produced mixed models including climatic variables and those LC variables selected as decreasing the residual of bioclimatic models. Then we compared the explanatory and predictive power of the pure bioclimatic against the mixed model. Results, (1) At the European coarse resolution, land cover is mainly driven by climate. Two bioclimatic axes representing a gradient of temperature and a gradient of precipitation explained most variation of land-cover distribution. (2) The inclusion of land cover improved significantly the explanatory power of bioclimatic models and the most relevant variables across groups were those not explained or poorly explained by climate. However, the predictive power of bioclimatic model was not improved by the inclusion of LC variables in the iterative model selection process. Main conclusion, Climate is the major driver of both species and land-cover distributions over Europe. Yet, LC variables that are not explained or weakly associated with climate (inland water, sea or arable land) are interesting to describe particular mammal, bird and tree distributions. However, the addition of LC variables to pure bioclimatic models does not improve their predictive accuracy. [source]

Adaptive latitudinal trends in the mandible shape of Apodemus wood mice

Sabrina Renaud
Abstract Aim Size and shape of the mandible are investigated across the latitudinal range of the European wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), in order to address the relative importance of genetic structure, insularity, and geographical gradient in patterning morphological variation. Results are compared with those on two Asiatic species of wood mice, A. argenteus and A. speciosus. Location The European wood mouse is sampled by a set of trapping localities including both, islands and mainland populations, as well as the four genetic groups identified in previous studies. The localities cover a latitudinal gradient from 55° N to 36° N. Methods Different Fourier methods are applied to the outlines of mandibles and their results compared in the case of A. sylvaticus. All provide similar results and allow a quantification of the size and shape variations across the geographical range of the European wood mouse. Using the method allowing for the best reduction of the informative data set, a comparison of the European wood mouse with the two Asiatic species was performed. Results Within the European wood mouse A. sylvaticus, a strong latitudinal gradient in mandible shape overrides the influence of insularity and genetic structure. Yet, random morphological divergence in insular conditions can be identified as a secondary process of shape differentiation. Size displays no obvious pattern of variation, neither with insularity or latitude. A comparison with two other species of wood mice suggests that a similar latitudinal gradient in mandible shape exists in different species, mandibles being flatter in the north and wider in the south. Main conclusion The latitudinal gradient in mandible shape observed in the three species of wood mice is interpreted as an intraspecific adaptive response to gradual changes in feeding behaviour. [source]

Biodiversity and biogeography of the islands of the Kuril Archipelago

Theodore W. Pietsch
Abstract Aim Based on seven consecutive seasons of biotic survey and inventory of the terrestrial and freshwater plants and animals of the 30 major islands of the Kuril Archipelago, a description of the biodiversity and an analysis of the biogeography of this previously little known part of the world are provided. Location The Kuril Archipelago, a natural laboratory for investigations into the origin, subsequent evolution, and long-term maintenance of insular populations, forms the eastern boundary of the Okhotsk Sea, extending 1200 km between Hokkaido, Japan, and the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia. A chain of more than 56 islands, the system is only slightly smaller than the Hawaiian Islands, covering an area of 15,600 km2 and providing 2409 km of coastline. Methods Collections of whole specimens of plants and animals, as well as tissue samples for future molecular studies, were made by teams of scientists from Russia, Japan, and the USA, averaging 34 people for each of the seven annual summer expeditions (1994,2000). Floral and faunal similarities between islands were evaluated by using Sorensen's coefficient of similarity. The similarity matrix resulting from pair-wise calculations was then subjected to UPGMA cluster analysis. Results Despite the relatively small geographical area of all islands combined, the Kuril Island biota is characterized by unusually high taxonomic diversity, yet endemism is very low. An example of a non-relict biota, it originated from two primary sources: a southern source, the Asian mainland by way of Sakhalin and Hokkaido, and a northern source by way of Kamchatka. The contribution of the southern source biota to the species diversity of the Kurils was considerably greater than the northern one. Main conclusion The Bussol Strait, lying between Urup and Simushir in the central Kurils, is the most significant biogeographical boundary within the Archipelago. Of lesser importance are two transitional zones, the De Vries Strait or ,Miyabe Line', which passes between Iturup and Urup in the southern Kurils, and the fourth Kuril Strait, between Onekotan and Paramushir in the northern Kurils. [source]

Australian biogeographical connections and the phylogeny of large genera in the plant family Myrtaceae

Pauline Y. Ladiges
Abstract Aim To compare the phylogeny of the eucalypt and melaleuca groups with geological events and ages of fossils to discover the time frame of clade divergences. Location Australia, New Caledonia, New Guinea, Indonesian Archipelago. Methods We compare published molecular phylogenies of the eucalypt and melaleuca groups of the plant family Myrtaceae with geological history and known fossil records from the Cretaceous and Cenozoic. Results The Australasian eucalypt group includes seven genera, of which some are relictual rain forest taxa of restricted distribution and others are species-rich and widespread in drier environments. Based on molecular and morphological data, phylogenetic analyses of the eucalypt group have identified two major clades. The monotypic Arillastrum endemic to New Caledonia is related in one clade to the more species-rich Angophora, Corymbia and Eucalyptus that dominate the sclerophyll vegetation of Australia. Based on the time of rifting of New Caledonia from eastern Gondwana and the age of fossil eucalypt pollen, we argue that this clade extends back to the Late Cretaceous. The second clade includes three relictual rain forest taxa, with Allosyncarpia from Arnhem Land the sister taxon to Eucalyptopsis of New Guinea and the eastern Indonesian archipelago, and Stockwellia from the Atherton Tableland in north-east Queensland. As monsoonal, drier conditions evolved in northern Australia, Arnhem Land was isolated from the wet tropics to the east and north during the Oligocene, segregating ancestral rain forest biota. It is argued also that the distribution of species in Eucalyptopsis and Eucalyptus subgenus Symphyomyrtus endemic in areas north of the stable edge of the Australian continent, as far as Sulawesi and the southern Philippines, is related to the geological history of south-east Asia-Australasia. Colonization (dispersal) may have been aided by rafting on micro-continental fragments, by accretion of arc terranes onto New Guinea and by land brought into closer proximity during periods of low sea-level, from the Late Miocene and Pliocene. The phylogenetic position of the few northern, non-Australian species of Eucalyptus subgenus Symphyomyrtus suggests rapid radiation in the large Australian sister group(s) during this time frame. A similar pattern, connecting Australia and New Caledonia, is emerging from phylogenetic analysis of the Melaleuca group (Beaufortia suballiance) within Myrtaceae, with Melaleuca being polyphyletic. Main conclusion The eucalypt group is an old lineage extending back to the Late Cretaceous. Differentiation of clades is related to major geological and climatic events, including rifting of New Caledonia from eastern Gondwana, development of monsoonal and drier climates, collision of the northern edge of the Australian craton with island arcs and periods of low sea level. Vicariance events involve dispersal of biota. [source]

Cladistic biogeography and the art of discovery

Malte C. Ebach
Aims Cladistic biogeography is about discovering geographical congruence. The agreement of several taxon-area cladograms (TACs) rarely yields a perfect result. Areas may overlap, taxa may not be evenly distributed, and thus, ambiguity may be prevalent in the data. Ambiguity is incongruence and may be resolved by reducing paralogy and resolving potential information. Recently, several new approaches in cladistic biogeography [i.e. Brooks parsimony analysis (BPA), Assumption 0] interpret ambiguity as congruence. These methods are problematic, as they are generational. Methods constructed under the generation paradigm are flawed concepts that are immunized from falsifying evidence. A critique of modified BPA reveals that taking an evolutionary stance in biogeography leads to flaws in implementation. Methods Area cladistics is a new development in cladistic biogeography. Area cladistics adopts paralogy-free subtree analysis using Assumption 2, to discover the relative positions of continents through time. Results Geographical congruence is the result of allopatric (geographical) speciation. Vicariance, dispersal and combinations of both, are recognized causes for allopatric speciation. Area cladistics highlights the concept that all these events occur in response to geological changes (e.g. continental drift) either directly, by geographical boundaries, or indirectly, at the level of ocean currents. Samples of chosen examples all respond to the geological process. The examples include Ordovician,Silurian and Lower Devonian trilobites to yield a general areagram which is a representational branching diagram that depicts the relationships of areas. Main conclusion Finding one common biogeographical pattern from several unrelated groups is a qualitative approach to interpret the positions of continental margins through time. Area cladistics is not a substitute for palaeomaps that are derived from palaeomagnetic data, but general areagrams adding to the body of knowledge that yields more precise interpretations of the earth's past. [source]

The species,area relationship does not have an asymptote!

Mark Williamson
Aim To attack a widespread myth. Location World-wide. Methods Simple mathematical logical and empirical examples. Results As both species and area are finite and non-negative, the species,area relationship is limited at both ends. The log species,log area relationship is normally effectively linear on scales from about 1 ha to 107 km2. There are no asymptotes. At the intercontinental scale it may get steeper; at small scales it may in different cases get steeper or shallower or maintain its slope. Main conclusion The species,area relationship does not have an asymptote. [source]

Vicariance or dispersal: the use of natural historical data to test competing hypotheses of disjunction on the Tyrrhenian coast

George F. Estabrook
Aim To illustrate the use of natural historical data to evaluate vicariance and dispersal as hypotheses competing to explain disjunct populations. Location Nine disjunct areas on the margin of the Tyrrhenian basin of the Mediterranean Sea. Methods First describe how each hypothesized mechanism might explain the observed morphological variation in the model species complex, Genista ephedroides (Fabaceae); then confront the hypotheses with natural historical data including geology, oxygen isotopes, palynology, macro-, micro- and nano-fossils, and sea level changes, and with the ecological tolerances of the model species complex. Results Dispersal seems the more credible explanation. Main conclusion Patterns of morphological (or other) variation among related disjunct taxa can fit both vicariance and dispersal hypotheses. However they can possibly be distinguished by considering natural historical data. [source]

Are island plant communities more invaded than their mainland counterparts?

Montserrat Vilŕ
Abstract Questions: Are island vegetation communities more invaded than their mainland counterparts? Is this pattern consistent among community types? Location: The coastal provinces of Catalonia and the para-oceanic Balearic Islands, both in NE Spain. These islands were connected to the continent more than 5.35 million years ago and are now located <200 km from the coast. Methods: We compiled a database of almost 3000 phytosociological relevés from the Balearic Islands and Catalonia and compared the level of invasion by alien plants in island versus mainland communities. Twenty distinct plant community types were compared between island and mainland counterparts. Results: The percentage of plots with alien species, number, percentage and cover percentage of alien species per plot was greater in Catalonia than in the Balearic Islands in most communities. Overall, across communities, more alien species were found in the mainland (53) compared to the islands (only nine). Despite these differences, patterns of the level of invasion in communities were highly consistent between the islands and mainland. The most invaded communities were ruderal and riparian. Main conclusion: Our results indicate that para-oceanic island communities such as the Balearic Islands are less invaded than their mainland counterparts. This difference reflects a smaller regional alien species pool in the Balearic Islands than in the adjacent mainland, probably due to differences in landscape heterogeneity and propagule pressure. [source]

BIODIVERSITY RESEARCH: Conserving macroinvertebrate diversity in headwater streams: the importance of knowing the relative contributions of , and , diversity

Amber Clarke
Abstract Aim, We investigated partitioning of aquatic macroinvertebrate diversity in eight headwater streams to determine the relative contributions of , and , diversity to , diversity, and the scale dependence of , and , components. Location, Great Dividing Range, Victoria, Australia. Methods, We used the method of Jost (Ecology, 2007, 88, 2427,2439) to partition , diversity into its , and , components. We undertook the analyses at both reach and catchment scales to explore whether inferences depended on scale of observation. Results, We hypothesized that , diversity would make a large contribution to the , diversity of macroinvertebrates in our dendritic riverine landscape, particularly at the larger spatial scale (among catchments) because of limited dispersal among sites and especially among catchments. However, reaches each had relatively high taxon richness and high , diversity, while , diversity made only a small contribution to , diversity at both the reach and catchment scales. Main conclusions, Dendritic riverine landscapes have been thought to generate high , diversity as a consequence of limited dispersal and high heterogeneity among individual streams, but this may not hold for all headwater stream systems. Here, , diversity was high and , diversity low, with individual headwater stream reaches each containing a large portion of , diversity. Thus, each stream could be considered to have low irreplaceability since losing the option to use one of these sites in a representative reserve network does not greatly diminish the options available for completing the reserve network. Where limited information on individual taxonomic distributions is available, or time and money for modelling approaches are limited, diversity partitioning may provide a useful ,first-cut' for obtaining information about the irreplaceability of individual streams or subcatchments when establishing representative freshwater reserves. [source]

BIODIVERSITY RESEARCH: Genetic diversity in two introduced biofouling amphipods (Ampithoe valida & Jassa marmorata) along the Pacific North American coast: investigation into molecular identification and cryptic diversity

Erik M. Pilgrim
Abstract Aim, We investigated patterns of genetic diversity among invasive populations of Ampithoe valida and Jassa marmorata from the Pacific North American coast to assess the accuracy of morphological identification and determine whether or not cryptic diversity and multiple introductions contribute to the contemporary distribution of these species in the region. Location, Native range: Atlantic North American coast; Invaded range: Pacific North American coast. Methods, We assessed indices of genetic diversity based on DNA sequence data from the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene, determined the distribution of COI haplotypes among populations in both the invasive and putative native ranges of A. valida and J. marmorata and reconstructed phylogenetic relationships among COI haplotypes using both maximum parsimony and Bayesian approaches. Results, Phylogenetic inference indicates that inaccurate species-level identifications by morphological criteria are common among Jassa specimens. In addition, our data reveal the presence of three well supported but previously unrecognized clades of A. valida among specimens in the north-eastern Pacific. Different species of Jassa and different genetic lineages of Ampithoe exhibit striking disparity in geographic distribution across the region as well as substantial differences in genetic diversity indices. Main conclusions, Molecular genetic methods greatly improve the accuracy and resolution of identifications for invasive benthic marine amphipods at the species level and below. Our data suggest that multiple cryptic introductions of Ampithoe have occurred in the north-eastern Pacific and highlight uncertainty regarding the origin and invasion histories of both Jassa and Ampithoe species. Additional morphological and genetic analyses are necessary to clarify the taxonomy and native biogeography of both amphipod genera. [source]

Spatial and temporal variation of abundance, biomass and diversity within marine reserves in the Philippines

Jonathan A. Anticamara
Abstract Aim, The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of protection duration (years of fishing closure) and location (distance from shore) on reef fish diversity. Location, Danajon Double Barrier Reef, Bohol, Philippines. Methods, Reef fish abundance and size structure, by species, were obtained monthly using replicated underwater visual belt transects (n = 8; 70 × 5-m belt transects) over 3 years (2002,2005) at eight sites that included six marine reserves and two unprotected reef areas. We analysed species accumulation curves, diversity indices and abundance,biomass comparison (ABC) curves within and across the study sites to assess the influence of protection duration and location. Results, Analyses showed that longer protection duration impacted reef fish diversity at both inshore and offshore sites by shifting ABC curves from higher abundance than biomass curves at fished sites to higher biomass than abundance curves at most of the protected sites. Protection duration did not significantly influence either the rate of species accumulation within sites or the 12 diversity indices measured across the study sites. The offshore sites consistently showed higher rates of species accumulation and diversity indices values than inshore sites with similar protection duration. One protected offshore young marine reserve site that has been assessed as the least well-managed showed patterns more consistent with the fished sites. Main conclusions, Analyses showed that protection duration mainly impacted diversity by increasing the dominance of large-bodied species and enhancing total biomass. Besides protection duration, reserve location influenced species accumulation curves and diversity indices. [source]

Disentangling the relative effects of environmental versus human factors on the abundance of native and alien plant species in Mediterranean sandy shores

Marta Carboni
Abstract Aim, Mediterranean coastal sand dunes are characterized by both very stressful environmental conditions and intense human pressure. This work aims to separate the relative contributions of environmental and human factors in determining the presence/abundance of native and alien plant species in such an extreme environment at a regional scale. Location, 250 km of the Italian Tyrrhenian coast (Region Lazio). Methods, We analysed alien and native plant richness and fitted generalized additive models in a multimodel-inference framework with comprehensive randomizations to evaluate the relative contribution of environmental and human correlates in explaining the observed patterns. Results, Native and alien richness are positively correlated, but different variables influence their spatial patterns. For natives, human population density is the most important factor and is negatively related to richness. Numbers of natives are unexpectedly lower in areas with a high proportion of natural land cover (probably attributable to local farming practices) and, to a lesser degree, affected by the movement of the coastline. On the other hand, alien species richness is strongly related to climatic factors, and more aliens are found in sectors with high rainfall. Secondarily, alien introductions appear to be related to recent urban sprawl and associated gardening. Main conclusions, Well-adapted native species in a fragile equilibrium with their natural environment are extremely sensitive to human-driven modifications. On the contrary, for more generalist alien species, the availability of limited resources plays a predominant role. [source]

Can distribution models help refine inventory-based estimates of conservation priority?

A case study in the Eastern Arc forests of Tanzania, Kenya
Abstract Aim, Data shortages mean that conservation priorities can be highly sensitive to historical patterns of exploration. Here, we investigate the potential of regionally focussed species distribution models to elucidate fine-scale patterns of richness, rarity and endemism. Location, Eastern Arc Mountains, Tanzania and Kenya. Methods, Generalized additive models and land cover data are used to estimate the distributions of 452 forest plant taxa (trees, lianas, shrubs and herbs). Presence records from a newly compiled database are regressed against environmental variables in a stepwise multimodel. Estimates of occurrence in forest patches are collated across target groups and analysed alongside inventory-based estimates of conservation priority. Results, Predicted richness is higher than observed richness, with the biggest disparities in regions that have had the least research. North Pare and Nguu in particular are predicted to be more important than the inventory data suggest. Environmental conditions in parts of Nguru could support as many range-restricted and endemic taxa as Uluguru, although realized niches are subject to unknown colonization histories. Concentrations of rare plants are especially high in the Usambaras, a pattern mediated in models by moisture indices, whilst overall richness is better explained by temperature gradients. Tree data dominate the botanical inventory; we find that priorities based on other growth forms might favour the mountains in a different order. Main conclusions, Distribution models can provide conservation planning with high-resolution estimates of richness in well-researched areas, and predictive estimates of conservation importance elsewhere. Spatial and taxonomic biases in the data are essential considerations, as is the spatial scale used for models. We caution that predictive estimates are most uncertain for the species of highest conservation concern, and advocate using models and targeted field assessments iteratively to refine our understanding of which areas should be prioritised for conservation. [source]

Migratory connectivity in a declining bird species: using feather isotopes to inform demographic modelling

Thomas S. Reichlin
Abstract Aim, Conservation programmes for endangered migratory species or populations require locating and evaluating breeding, stopover and wintering areas. We used multiple stable isotopes in two endangered European populations of wrynecks, Jynx torquilla L., to locate wintering regions and assess the degree of migratory connectivity between breeding and wintering populations. Location, Switzerland and Germany. Methods, We analysed stable nitrogen (,15N), carbon (,13C) and hydrogen (,D) isotopes from wing feathers from two populations of wrynecks to infer their wintering origins and to assess the strength of migratory connectivity. We tested whether variation in feather isotopic values within the Swiss population was affected by bird age and collection year and then considered differences in isotopic values between the two breeding populations. We used isotopic values of summer- and winter-grown feathers to estimate seasonal distributions. Finally, we calculated a species-specific ,D discrimination factor between feathers and mean annual ,D values to assign winter-grown feathers to origin. Results, Bird age and collection year caused substantial isotopic variation in winter-grown feathers, which may be because of annually variable weather conditions, movements of birds among wintering sites and/or reflect asynchronous moulting or selection pressure. The large isotopic variance in winter-grown feathers nevertheless suggested low migratory connectivity for each breeding population, with partially overlapping wintering regions for the two populations. Main conclusions, Isotopic variance in winter-grown feathers of two breeding populations of wrynecks and their geographical assignment point to defined, albeit overlapping, wintering areas, suggesting both leapfrog migration and low migratory connectivity. On this basis, integrative demographic models can be built looking at seasonal survival patterns with links to local environmental conditions on both breeding and wintering grounds, which may elucidate causes of declines in migratory bird species. [source]

Synthesis of pattern and process in biodiversity conservation assessment: a flexible whole-landscape modelling framework

Simon Ferrier
Abstract Aim, To describe a general modelling framework for integrating multiple pattern- and process-related factors into biodiversity conservation assessments across whole landscapes. Location, New South Wales (Australia), and world-wide. Methods, The framework allows for a rich array of alternatives to the target-based model traditionally underpinning systematic conservation planning and consists of three broad modelling components. The first component models the future state (condition) of habitat across a landscape as a function of present state, current and projected pressures acting on this state, and any proposed, or implemented, management interventions. The second component uses this spatially explicit prediction of future habitat state to model the level of persistence expected for each of a set of surrogate biodiversity entities. The third component then integrates these individual expectations to estimate the overall level of persistence expected for biodiversity as a whole. Results, Options are explored for tailoring implementation of the framework to suit planning processes varying markedly in purpose, and in availability of data, time, funding and expertise. The framework allows considerable flexibility in the nature of employed biodiversity surrogates (species-level, discrete or continuous community-level) and spatial data structures (polygonal planning units, or fine-scaled raster), the level of sophistication with which each of the three modelling components is implemented (from simple target-based assessment to complex process-based modelling approaches), and the forms of higher-level analysis supported (e.g. optimal plan development, priority mapping, interactive scenario evaluation). Main conclusions, The described framework provides a logical, and highly flexible, foundation for integrating disparate pattern- and process-related factors into conservation assessments in dynamic, multiple-use landscapes. [source]

Range size, taxon age and hotspots of neoendemism in the California flora

Nathan J. B. Kraft
Abstract Aim, Sustaining biological diversity requires the protection of the ecological, evolutionary and landscape-level processes that generate it. Here, we identify areas of high neoendemism in a global diversity hotspot, the California flora, using range size data and molecular-based estimates of taxon age. Location, California, USA. Methods, We compiled distribution and range size data for all plant taxa endemic to California and internal transcribed spacer (ITS)-based age estimates for 337 putative neoendemics (15% of the endemic flora). This information was combined to identify areas in the state with high proportions of young and restricted-range taxa. We overlaid the distribution of neoendemic hotspots on maps of currently protected lands and also explored correlations between our diversity measures and climate. Results, The central coast of California, the Sierra Nevada and the San Bernardino Range contained endemics with the most restricted distributions on average, while areas in the Desert and Great Basin provinces found within the state were composed of the youngest neoendemics on average. Diversity measures that took age and range size into account shifted the estimate of highest endemic diversity in the state towards the Desert and Great Basin regions relative to simple counts of endemic species richness. Our diversity measures were poorly correlated with climate and topographic heterogeneity. Main conclusions, Substantial portions of California with high levels of plant neoendemism fall outside of protected lands, indicating that additional action will be needed to preserve the geographic areas apparently associated with high rates of plant diversification. The neoendemic flora of the deserts appears particularly young in our analyses, which may reflect the relatively recent origin of desert environments within the state. [source]