Factors determining mammal species richness on habitat islands and isolates: habitat diversity, disturbance, species interactions and guild assembly rules



  • 1For over three decades the equilibrium theory of island biogeography has galvanized studies in ecological biogeography. Studies of oceanic islands and of natural habitat islands share some similarities to continental studies, particularly in developed regions where habitat fragmentation results from many land uses. Increasingly, remnant habitat is in the form of isolates created by the clearing and destruction of natural areas. Future evolution of a theory to predict patterns of species abundance may well come from the application of island biogeography to habitat fragments or isolates.
  • 2In this paper we consider four factors other than area and isolation that influence the number and type of mammal species coexisting in one place: habitat diversity, habitat disturbance, species interactions and guild assembly rules. In all examples our data derive from mainland habitat, fragmented to differing degrees, with different levels of isolation.
  • 3Habitat diversity is seen to be a good predictor of species richness. Increased levels of disturbance produce a relatively greater decrease in species richness on smaller than on larger isolates. Species interactions in the recolonization of highly disturbed sites, such as regenerating mined sites, is analogous to island colonization. Species replacement sequences in secondary successions indicate not just how many, but which species are included. Lastly, the complement of species established on islands, or in insular habitats, may be governed by guild assembly rules. These contributions may assist in taking a renewed theory into the new millennium.