Dispersal failure contributes to plant losses in NW Europe

Dispersal failure contributes to plant losses in NW Europe The ongoing decline of many plant species in Northwest Europe indicates that traditional conservation measures to improve the habitat quality, although useful, are not enough to halt diversity losses. Using recent databases, we show for the first time that differences between species in adaptations to various dispersal vectors, in combination with changes in the availability of these vectors, contribute significantly to explaining losses in plant diversity in Northwest Europe in the 20th century. Species with water‐ or fur‐assisted dispersal are over‐represented among declining species, while others (wind‐ or bird‐assisted dispersal) are under‐represented. Our analysis indicates that the ‘colonization deficit’ due to a degraded dispersal infrastructure is no less important in explaining plant diversity losses than the more commonly accepted effect of eutrophication and associated niche‐based processes. Our findings call for measures that aim to restore the dispersal infrastructure across entire regions and that go beyond current conservation practices. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Ecology Letters Wiley

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
© 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS
ISSN
1461-023X
eISSN
1461-0248
DOI
10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01261.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The ongoing decline of many plant species in Northwest Europe indicates that traditional conservation measures to improve the habitat quality, although useful, are not enough to halt diversity losses. Using recent databases, we show for the first time that differences between species in adaptations to various dispersal vectors, in combination with changes in the availability of these vectors, contribute significantly to explaining losses in plant diversity in Northwest Europe in the 20th century. Species with water‐ or fur‐assisted dispersal are over‐represented among declining species, while others (wind‐ or bird‐assisted dispersal) are under‐represented. Our analysis indicates that the ‘colonization deficit’ due to a degraded dispersal infrastructure is no less important in explaining plant diversity losses than the more commonly accepted effect of eutrophication and associated niche‐based processes. Our findings call for measures that aim to restore the dispersal infrastructure across entire regions and that go beyond current conservation practices.

Journal

Ecology LettersWiley

Published: Jan 1, 2009

References

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