Geographical range size of tropical plants influences their response to anthropogenic activities

Authors

  • Tannya Lozada,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Agroecology, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Waldweg 26, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany,
      Correspondence: Tannya Lozada, Box 17116326, La Rábida N26-52, Quito, Ecuador. Tel.: +593 22903112; Fax: +593 22567923; E-mail: tllozada@gmail.com
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  • G. H. J. de Koning,

    1. Institute of Soil Science and Forest Nutrition, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Buesgenweg 2, D-37770 Göttingen, Germany,
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  • Michael Kessler,

    1. Department of Systematic Botany, Albrecht-von-Haller-Institute of Plant Sciences, Untere Karspüle 2, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany
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  • Alexandra-Maria Klein,

    1. Institute of Agroecology, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Waldweg 26, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany,
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  • Teja Tscharntke

    1. Institute of Agroecology, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Waldweg 26, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany,
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Correspondence: Tannya Lozada, Box 17116326, La Rábida N26-52, Quito, Ecuador. Tel.: +593 22903112; Fax: +593 22567923; E-mail: tllozada@gmail.com

ABSTRACT

Biodiversity patterns may be influenced by the species geographical range sizes, but this is rarely shown. We used a highly replicated and large-scale study in coastal Ecuador to determine for the first time the importance of latitudinal range size of plant species in their response to land-use activities. We examined herbaceous plant communities of five land-use types with decreasing anthropogenic disturbance (from the most intervened rice and pasture to the less intervened managed agroforest, abandoned agroforest, and forest) in a low and a high impact human-dominated landscape. All species were classified in four latitudinal range size quartiles, from the 25% species with the narrowest to the 25% with the widest range size. We found notable differences between patterns of total species richness and those of individual range size quartiles. Whereas total species richness was higher in more intervened land-use types, percentages of narrow-ranged species were significantly higher in less intervened land-use types. In contrast, percentages of wide-ranging species were higher in more intervened land-use types. Hence, responses of plant species to human activities were influenced by traits that determine their range sizes. An analysis of floristic similarity between land-use types revealed that narrow-ranged species were mainly preserved in forest fragments, but the other land-use types supported many unique narrow-ranged species and therefore made an important contribution to their preservation at the landscape level. Conservation efforts should combine protection of natural habitats with strategies to maintain a diversity of low-intensity land-use types, looking for win-win solutions or trade-offs between biodiversity conservation and human welfare in human-dominated landscapes.

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