Patterns of rarity in species are generally explained by several factors: evolutionary history, spatial distribution, and genetic structure of each taxon. Human intervention also leads to or increases rarity in species. The discernment of causes of rarity is essential to the understanding of extinction patterns, and thus to devising conservation strategies. I examine patterns of rarity among bird species in the Atlantic forest region in Brazil, one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world. I assigned bird species to one of eight possible categories that differ in degree of vulnerability and that are based on three parameters of rarity: geographic distribution, habitat specificity, and population size. The Atlantic forest avifauna is a highly endangered group; 68% of the species are rare. Patterns of rarity among the birds in the region likely result from their specific ecologies or evolutionary histories. In addition, human alteration of natural habitats and hunting pressures have undoubtedly influenced rarity for a number of species.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Feb 17, 1997
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