Extinction filters mediate the global effects of habitat fragmentation on animals

Betts, M.G. and Wolf, C. and Pfeifer, M. and Banks-Leite, C. and Arroyo-Rodríguez, V. and Ribeiro, D.B. and Barlow, J. and Eigenbrod, F. and Faria, D. and Fletcher, R.J. and Hadley, A.S. and Hawes, J.E. and Holt, R.D. and Klingbeil, B. and Kormann, U. and Lens, L. and Levi, T. and Medina-Rangel, G.F. and Melles, S.L. and Mezger, D. and Morante-Filho, J.C. and Orme, C.D.L. and Peres, C.A. and Phalan, B.T. and Pidgeon, A. and Possingham, H. and Ripple, W.J. and Slade, E.M. and Somarriba, E. and Tobias, J.A. and Tylianakis, J.M. and Urbina-Cardona, J.N. and Valente, J.J. and Watling, J.I. and Wells, K. and Wearn, O.R. and Wood, E. and Young, R. and Ewers, R.M. (2019) Extinction filters mediate the global effects of habitat fragmentation on animals. Science, 366 (6470). pp. 1236-1239. ISSN 0036-8075

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Habitat loss is the primary driver of biodiversity decline worldwide, but the effects of fragmentation (the spatial arrangement of remaining habitat) are debated. We tested the hypothesis that forest fragmentation sensitivity-affected by avoidance of habitat edges-should be driven by historical exposure to, and therefore species' evolutionary responses to disturbance. Using a database containing 73 datasets collected worldwide (encompassing 4489 animal species), we found that the proportion of fragmentation-sensitive species was nearly three times as high in regions with low rates of historical disturbance compared with regions with high rates of disturbance (i.e., fires, glaciation, hurricanes, and deforestation). These disturbances coincide with a latitudinal gradient in which sensitivity increases sixfold at low versus high latitudes. We conclude that conservation efforts to limit edges created by fragmentation will be most important in the world's tropical forests.

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14 Oct 2020 09:05
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2023 01:43