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Distribution and habitat specialization of species affect local extinction in dragonfly Odonata populations

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The object of our study was to determine the effect of distribution and habitat specialization of odonate species on local extinction in streams in central Finland. We studied the local extinction of the 20 most abundant dragonfly (Odonata) species in 34 small creeks and brooks in central Finland. The historical presence of each studied species in our research area was confirmed using existing records gathered between 1930 and 1975. A minimum of five records was available for each species. During the summers of 1995 and 1996, we investigated the current persistence of 219 separate populations with historical presence. In total, 98 historical populations were vanished. As predicted, we found that species with a narrow distribution were less persistent than species with a broad distribution. Therefore, the extinction risk of a species was inversely related to the width of its regional distribution. Using reference works, species were categorized into two main breeding habitat types: lotic species or lentic species. The species main habitat type was a significant predictor of local extinction risk after statistical removal of the effect of regional distribution on extinction risk. The lotic species had lower local extinction risk than other species. Altogether, the highest extinction risk was found in habitat-specialist species associated with peatlands, probably due to loss of natural breeding habitat. On the other hand, extinction risk was lower in widely distributed habitat generalist species than true lotic species. The local extinction within species was more common in small dynamic upstream than in larger stable downstream habitats. The results of this study are consistent with meta-population theory.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2002

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