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Correlates of extinction proneness in tropical angiosperms

Authors

  • Navjot S. Sodhi,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 14 Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543, Singapore,
      Correspondence: Navjot S. Sodhi, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 14 Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543, Singapore. E-mail: dbsns@nus.edu.sg
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  • Lian Pin Koh,

    1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, 106 A Guyot Hall, Princeton, New Jersey 08544-1003, USA,
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  • Kelvin S.-H. Peh,

    1. School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK,
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  • Hugh T. W. Tan,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 14 Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543, Singapore,
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  • Robin L. Chazdon,

    1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, U-3043, 75 North Eagleville Road, Storrs, Connecticut 06269-3043, USA,
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  • Richard T. Corlett,

    1. Department of Ecology and Biodiversity, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong,
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  • Tien Ming Lee,

    1. Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Section, Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, California 92093-0116, USA,
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  • Robert K. Colwell,

    1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, U-3043, 75 North Eagleville Road, Storrs, Connecticut 06269-3043, USA,
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  • Barry W. Brook,

    1. School for Environmental Research, Institute of Advanced Studies, Charles Darwin University, Darwin 0909, Northern Territory, Australia,
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    • Present address: Research Institute of Climate Change and Sustainability, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia

  • Cagan H. Sekercioglu,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-5020, USA
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  • Corey J. A. Bradshaw

    1. School for Environmental Research, Institute of Advanced Studies, Charles Darwin University, Darwin 0909, Northern Territory, Australia,
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Correspondence: Navjot S. Sodhi, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 14 Science Drive 4, Singapore 117543, Singapore. E-mail: dbsns@nus.edu.sg

ABSTRACT

Rapid losses and degradation of natural habitats in the tropics are driving catastrophic declines and extinctions of native biotas, including angiosperms. Determining the ecological and life-history correlates of extinction proneness in tropical plant species may help reveal the mechanisms underlying their responses to habitat disturbance, and assist in the pre-emptive identification of species at risk from extinction. We determined the predictors of extinction proneness in 1884 locally extinct (n = 454) and extant (n = 1430) terrestrial angiosperms (belonging to 43 orders, 133 families, and 689 genera) in the tropical island nation of Singapore (699.4 km2), which has lost 99.6% of its primary lowland evergreen rainforest since 1819. A wide variety of traits such as geographical distribution, pollination system, sexual system, habit, habitat, height, fruit/seed dispersal mechanism, and capacity for vegetative re-sprouting were used in the analysis. Despite controlling for phylogeny (as approximated by family level classification), we found that only a small percentage of the variation in the extinction probability could be explained by these factors. Epiphytic, monoecious, and hermaphroditic species and those restricted to inland forests have higher probabilities of extinction. Species dependent on mammal pollinators also probably have higher extinction probabilities. More comparative studies that use species traits to identify extinction-prone plant species are needed to guide the enormous, but essential task of identifying species most in need of conservation action.

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