Loss and deterioraton of indigenous habitat increasingly affect natural populations worldwide. As a result of these processes, new selection pressures are imposed upon organisms, increasing local extinction rates. Simultaneously, reduced movement among remnant patches lowers colonisation rates and affects demographic and genetic population parameters. Yet, organisms with comparable life histories often respond to habitat disturbance in various ways. Why so is a matter of great importance to evolutionists and conservationists alike.
To address the question what factors determine the persistence of species in fragmented habitats, an international team led by Belgian ecologist Luc Lens studied the relative impacts of forest deterioration and fragmentation on the persistence of eight forest-restricted bird species within 430 ha of rainforest remnants in south-east Kenya. Three species are endemic to the Taita Hills, which is part of the Eastern Arc biodiversity hotspot. Over the past decades, the indigenous forest has been reduced to 12 patches, of which only the three largest ones (94-179 ha) are inhabited by all study species. The nine other remnants are tiny (1-8 ha) and heavily disturbed, and host breeding populations of a subset of species only.
The researchers used data collected during six years of trapping, marking, and recapturing more than 3,000 birds to estimate species-specific ability to move among the forest remnants. To estimate stress tolerance, the team relied on earlier studies showing that when birds are under stress, bones in the hind limbs grow longer on one side than on the other. It was determined which species suffered the most stress by comparing measurements of modern birds to those of museum specimens captured when the forest was relatively undisturbed. Based on these estimates, it was shown that more mobile species occupied a higher proportion of patches than expected from their estimated stress sensitivity. Likewise, less sensitive species occupied a higher proportion of patches than predicted from their estimated level of mobility. Together, dispersal rate and change in asymmetry explained an astonishing 88% of the observed variation in patch occupancy between the eight study species.
Luc Lens | alfa
Rain is important for how carbon dioxide affects grasslands
06.03.2019 | University of Gothenburg
Northeast-Atlantic fish stocks: Recovery driven by improved management
04.02.2019 | Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut, Bundesforschungsinstitut für Ländliche Räume, Wald und Fischerei
New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum
For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...
Physicists in the EPic Lab at University of Sussex make crucial development in global race to develop a portable atomic clock
Scientists in the Emergent Photonics Lab (EPic Lab) at the University of Sussex have made a breakthrough to a crucial element of an atomic clock - devices...
Every year earthquakes worldwide claim hundreds or even thousands of lives. Forewarning allows people to head for safety and a matter of seconds could spell...
Scientists of the Department of Physics at the University of Hamburg, Germany, detected the magnetic states of atoms on a surface using only heat. The...
Combining an atomically thin graphene and a boron nitride layer at a slightly rotated angle changes their electrical properties. Physicists at the University of Basel have now shown for the first time the combination with a third layer can result in new material properties also in a three-layer sandwich of carbon and boron nitride. This significantly increases the number of potential synthetic materials, report the researchers in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Last year, researchers in the US caused a big stir when they showed that rotating two stacked graphene layers by a “magical” angle of 1.1 degrees turns...
11.03.2019 | Event News
01.03.2019 | Event News
28.02.2019 | Event News
18.03.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.03.2019 | Materials Sciences
18.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy