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Title: Are habitat-tracking metacommunities dispersal limited? Inferences from abundance-occupancy patterns of epiphylls in Amazonian forest fragments
Authors: Zartman, Charles Eugene
Nascimento, Henrique Eduardo Mendonça
Keywords: Community Dynamics
Extinction Risk
Habitat Fragmentation
Plant Community
South America
Western Hemisphere
Issue Date: 2006
metadata.dc.publisher.journal: Biological Conservation
metadata.dc.relation.ispartof: Volume 127, Número 1, Pags. 46-54
Abstract: In theory, habitat fragmentation alters plant community dynamics by influencing both local (within patch) and regional (among patch) processes. However, the lengthy generation times of plant taxa relative to the short duration of most experiments has precluded studies from assessing the impact of fragmentation at both local and regional scales. Due to their accelerated life cycles, high rates of local extinction, and naturally patchy substrates, epiphyllous bryophyte assemblages are an appropriate plant guild for empirically testing metacommunity-based predictions associated with habitat fragmentation. By examining the local abundance and regional distribution patterns of 67 epiphyllous (leaf-inhabiting) bryophyte species in an experimentally fragmented landscape in Amazonia, we demonstrate that changes in local abundance wrought by habitat fragmentation are best explained by fragment size rather than proximity to forest edge. Furthermore, evidence of a simultaneous inter-specific decline in epiphyll local abundance and regional distribution in small (1- and 10-ha) forest fragments corroborate with metapopulation-based predictions highlighting the importance of immigration in buffering from patch extinction risk (i.e., the rescue effect). Collectively, these results provide indirect evidence that dispersal limitation, rather than compromised habitat quality attributable to edge effects, likely account for species loss from small tropical forest fragments. Whether dispersal limitation is due to increased insularity from regional sources for epiphyll recolonization or rather to lowered within-fragment dispersal potential is unknown; nonetheless, the long-term persistence of these microscopic plant metacommunities depends on the preservation of rain forest reserves of at least 100-ha in size. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
metadata.dc.identifier.doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2005.07.012
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