Animal Versus Wind Dispersal and the Robustness of Tree Species to Deforestation

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Science  13 Jun 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5882, pp. 1502-1504
DOI: 10.1126/science.1158404

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Studies suggest that populations of different species do not decline equally after habitat loss. However, empirical tests have been confined to fine spatiotemporal scales and have rarely included plants. Using data from 89,365 forest survey plots covering peninsular Spain, we explored, for each of 34 common tree species, the relationship between probability of occurrence and the local cover of remaining forest. Twenty-four species showed a significant negative response to forest loss, so that decreased forest cover had a negative effect on tree diversity, but the responses of individual species were highly variable. Animal-dispersed species were less vulnerable to forest loss, with six showing positive responses to decreased forest cover. The results imply that plant-animal interactions help prevent the collapse of forest communities that suffer habitat destruction.

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