Plants that protect ecosystems: a survey from California
Author: Pavlik B.M.1, 2
Source: Biodiversity and Conservation, Volume 12, Number 4, April 2003 , pp. 717-729(13)
State and federal endangered species laws allow the protection of critical habitat for listed plant taxa. In the case of extreme ecological specialists with restricted geographic distributions, significant proportions of unusual ecosystems could thus be afforded protection as a byproduct of listing and subsequent restrictions on land use or management practices. This study surveyed federally and state-listed plants to determine: (1) which taxa conserved a significant proportion of a distinctive ecosystem, (2) which taxa provided a protective, regulatory umbrella to unlisted rare or restricted plants and animals, and (3) the taxonomic, life history or other characteristics correlated with the greatest secondary benefits. Protection of whole ecosystems was uncommon among listed taxa, but the relative degree of protection depended on critical delineation of boundaries. The number of associated, but unlisted taxa was considerable in some cases. In general, taxonomic distinctiveness and non-biological factors generated the greatest secondary effects. Management and monitoring problems prevent the assessment of whether such single-species approaches can effectively conserve ecosystems.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2003-04-01