Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Landscape corridors promote plant diversity

05.09.2006
Landscape corridors – thin strips of habitat that connect isolated patches of habitat – are lifelines for native plants that live in the connected patches and therefore are a useful tool for conserving biodiversity.

That’s the result of the first replicated, large-scale study of plants and how they survive in both connected patches of habitat – those utilizing landscape corridors – and unconnected patches. Scientists at North Carolina State University and collaborators at other U.S. universities conducted the study.

Patches of habitat connected by corridors contained 20 percent more plant species than unconnected patches at the end of the five-year study, says Dr. Ellen Damschen, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Damschen completed her Ph.D. in the lab of Dr. Nick Haddad, associate professor of zoology at NC State and a co-author of the paper describing the research.

The research appears in the Sept. 1 edition of the journal Science.

The loss and fragmentation of habitat is the largest threat to biodiversity globally, Damschen and Haddad say. In an effort to prevent species losses, conservation efforts have intuitively relied on corridors, which have become a dominant feature of conservation plans. However, there has been little scientific evidence showing that corridors do, in fact, preserve biodiversity.

To perform the research, the scientists collaborated with the U.S. Forest Service at the Savannah River Site National Environmental Research Park, a federally protected area on the South Carolina-Georgia border. Most of the Savannah River Site is covered with pine plantations. The U.S. Forest Service created eight identical sites, each with five openings, or patches, by clearing the pine forest. A central patch was connected to one other patch by a 150-meter-long, 25-meter-wide corridor, while three other patches were isolated from the central patch – and each other – by the surrounding forest. The patches are home to many species of plants and animals that prefer open habitats, many which are native to the historical longleaf pine savannas of this region.

The researchers surveyed all plant species inside connected and unconnected patches from 2000 to 2005; nearly 300 species of plants were found. When the study began, there was no difference in the number of species between connected and unconnected patches, the scientists say. After five years, however, patches with a corridor retained high numbers of species, while those without a corridor lost species.

Corridors provided the largest benefit to native species while having no effect on the number of invasive plant species. Invasive species seem to already be everywhere, not needing corridors for their spread, or remain where they originated, Damschen says. These results indicate that using corridors in conservation should provide benefits to native species that outweigh the risk of furthering the spread of exotic species.

Damschen says that a number of factors likely contributed to the difference in plant diversity. Seeds dispersed by animals are more likely to be deposited in patches with corridors; flowers are more likely to be pollinated because corridors increase the movement of insects; and animals that eat seeds – like ants and mice – can eat the seeds of more common species in connected patches and give rare seeds an advantage.

While the researchers predicted that corridors would be beneficial to increasing plant richness, “It’s surprising that we would see such a dramatic change over a short time scale,” Damschen says. “Plants are thought to be relatively sedentary organisms that are heavily influenced by their environmental surroundings. This study indicates that plants can change relatively quickly through their interactions with the landscape and the animals that interact with them, such as seed dispersers, pollinators and predators.”

The next step in their studies of corridors is to make predictions for how corridors affect plants based on plant characteristics, Damschen and Haddad say. The researchers will study the specific effects of pollination and seed dispersal by wind and animals on plants in both connected and unconnected patches of habitat, for example.

The study – which included assistance from scientists at Iowa State University, the University of Washington, the University of Florida, and the University of California-Santa Barbara – was funded by the National Science Foundation and by the Department of Energy-Savannah River Operations Office through the U.S. Forest Service Savannah River Institute. The U.S. Forest Service-Savannah River Site provided critical assistance with the creation and maintenance of the experimental landscapes.

Mick Kulikowski | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ncsu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

PR of MCC: Carbon removal from atmosphere unavoidable for 1.5 degree target

22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences

Achema 2018: New camera system monitors distillation and helps save energy

22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>