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Detection of extinction debt depends on scale and specialisation
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
2011 (English)In: Biological Conservation, ISSN 0006-3207, E-ISSN 1873-2917, Vol. 144, no 2, 782-787 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Many plants can persist in landscapes for a long time after focal habitats have disappeared or become fragmented, which might contribute to an extinction debt. Delayed responses of plant occurrence have recently received great attention, particularly in conservation, although evidence for extinction debts is incongruent. Here we asked if we could detect an extinction debt for plant species after 100 years of fragmentation, depending on regional or local (gamma or alpha respectively) diversity measure used, and if all plant species or only habitat specialists were investigated. Historical and contemporary grassland patterns were analysed in 33 rural landscapes (each 1 km(2) in diameter) in south-eastern Sweden. Results show that managed semi-natural grassland had declined from 39% to 3% in 100 years. Diversity measured at regional scale was best explained by grassland extent 100 years ago, for both all species and grassland specialists. Present-day management, but neither present nor past grassland extent, was important for grassland specialists' occurrence at the local scale, although present-day grassland proportion had a positive influence on species richness at the local scale. We found evidence of an extinction debt at both local and regional scale when all species were included in the analysis, but not for grassland specialist species at the local scale. However, the extinction debt is still to be settled for grassland specialists at the regional scale, and therefore the estimation of extinction debts in fragmented habitats presents one of the greatest challenges for conservation today and in the future.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 144, no 2, 782-787 p.
Keyword [en]
Biodiversity, Cadastral maps, Grassland, Landscape history, Landscape ecology, Relaxation time, Semi-natural grasslands, Species richness
National Category
Environmental Sciences Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-67481DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.11.009ISI: 000287897100018OAI: diva2:470608
authorCount :2Available from: 2011-12-29 Created: 2011-12-28 Last updated: 2011-12-29Bibliographically approved

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Cousins, Sara A. O.
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