Extinction rates of native California plants have been studied by three researchers who found that previously designed mathematical and computer models were biased because they left out the human element in their predictions, according to an article published in the August 20 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They conclude with the key concern that "understanding the relationship between habitat loss and loss of biodiversity is central to the development of sound conservation policy."
The authors are: Eric Seabloom, a postdoctoral fellow at UC Santa Barbaras National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS); Andy Dobson, professor in the Department of Ecology at Princeton; and David M. Stoms, researcher at the Institute for Computational Earth System UC Santa Barbara. The researchers used a public data set that lists the native plant species in 93 regions of California.
These data are particularly interesting, because of the high plant diversity in California. According to the article, California contains more than 20 percent of all the vascular plant species in the U.S. and 4 percent of the worldwide total. Mathematical and computer models are important tools to study potential extinctions and find ways – such as reserves – to preserve biodiversity. Typically, these assume that development in California is random.
Gail Gallessich | EurekAlert!
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