The influence of matrix quality on species richness in remnant forest
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Habitat destruction is the leading threat to terrestrial biodiversity, isolating remnant habitat in a matrix of modified vegetation.
Our goal was to determine how species richness in several broad taxonomic groups from remnant forest was influenced by matrix quality, which we characterized by comparing plant biomass in forest and the surrounding matrix.
We coupled data on species-area relationships (SARs) in forest remnants from 45 previously published studies with an index of matrix quality calculated using new estimates of plant biomass derived from satellite imagery.
The effect size of SARs was greatest in landscapes with low matrix quality and little forest cover. SARs were generally stronger for volant than for non-volant species. For the terrestrial taxa included in our analysis, matrix quality decreased as the proportion of water, ice, or urbanization in a landscape increased.
We clearly demonstrate that matrix quality plays a major role in determining patterns of species richness in remnant forest. A key implication of our work is that activities that increase matrix quality, such as active and passive habitat restoration, may be important conservation measure for maintaining and restoring biodiversity in modified landscapes.
KeywordsConnectivity Dispersal Habitat loss Habitat modification Isolation Patch
We thank R Drenovsky, C Anthony, and D Hickman for constructive feedback on the manuscript, and the Department of Biology at John Carroll University for supporting IJR during data collection and writing of this paper.
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