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Human Influence and Classical Biogeographic Predictors of Rare Species Occurrence

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Abstract

Biogeographic theory predicts that rare species occur more often in larger, less‐isolated habitat patches and suggests that patch size and connectivity are positive predictors of patch quality for conservation. However, in areas substantially modified by humans, rare species may be relegated to the most isolated patches. We used data from plant surveys of 81 meadow patches in the Georgia Basin of Canada and the United States to show that presence of threatened and endangered plants was positively predicted for patches that were isolated on small islands surrounded by ocean and for patches that were isolated by surrounding forest. Neither patch size nor connectivity were positive predictors of rare species occurrence. Thus, in our study area, human influence, presumably due to disturbance or introduction of competitive non‐native species, appears to have overwhelmed classical predictors of rare species distribution, such that greater patch isolation appeared to favor presence of rare species. We suggest conservation planners consider the potential advantages of protecting geographically isolated patches in human‐modified landscapes because such patches may represent the only habitats in which rare species are likely to persist.

Influencia Humana y Predictores Biogeográficos Clásicos de la Ocurrencia de Especies Raras
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Language: English

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2013

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