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Contrasting effects of different landscape characteristics on population growth of a perennial forest herb

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Anthropogenic changes in landscape structure, such as habitat loss, habitat subdivision and edge increase, can strongly affect the performance of plants, leading to population declines and extinctions. Many studies to date have focused on single characteristics of landscape structure or single life‐cycle phases, but they poorly discern the different pathways through which landscape change influences plant population dynamics via different vital rates. In this study, we evaluated the effect of two structural characteristics (habitat quantity and edge length) on vital rates and population growth rates of a perennial forest plant (Primula vulgaris) in a historically managed landscape. Areas with higher amounts of forest habitat had higher population growth rates due to higher recruitment, survival and growth of seedlings, while increased forest edge length was positively associated with population growth rates primarily due to a higher survival of reproductive individuals. Effects were stronger during the first of the two transition intervals studied. The results demonstrate that changes in different landscape structural characteristics may result in opposing effects acting via different vital rates, and highlight the need for integrative analyses to evaluate the effects of rapid landscape transformation on the current and long term plant population dynamics.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Depto de Biología de Organismos y Sistemas, Univ. de Oviedo, and Unidad Mixta de Investigación en Biodiversidad (UMIB, CSIC-UO-PA), C/Catedrático Rodrigo Uría, s/n, ES-33071 Oviedo, Spain.

Publication date: March 1, 2014

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