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From tropical shelters to temperate defaunation: the relationship between agricultural transition stage and the distribution of threatened mammals

Polaina, E., Gonzalez-Suarez, M., Kuemmerle, T., Kehoe, L. and Revilla, E. (2018) From tropical shelters to temperate defaunation: the relationship between agricultural transition stage and the distribution of threatened mammals. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 27 (6). pp. 647-657. ISSN 1466-8238

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/geb.12725

Abstract/Summary

Aim Agriculture is a key threat to biodiversity, however its relationship with biodiversity patterns is understudied. Here, we evaluate how the extent, intensity, and history of croplands relate to the global distribution of threatened mammals. We propose two hypotheses to explain these relationships: shelter, which predicts that threatened species concentrate in areas with low human land use; and threat, according to which threatened species should concentrate in areas of high human land use. Location Global. Time period c.B.C.6000 - 2014. Major taxa studied Terrestrial mammals. Methods We used boosted regression trees (BRT) that include spatial autocorrelation to investigate the relationship between the proportion of threatened terrestrial mammals (as defined by the IUCN Red List) and multiple metrics describing agricultural extent, intensity and history derived from remote sensing data and statistical projections. Data were analysed with a grain size of ~110 x 110 km at both global and biogeographic-realm scales. Results Agricultural extent and intensity were the most relevant indicator types, with specific metrics important for each realm. Forest cover (extent) was identified as important in several regions. Tropical regions in early agricultural transition stages (e.g., frontier landscapes) were consistent with the shelter hypothesis, whereas patterns found for regions in later stages (e.g., intensified agricultural landscapes) were mostly found in temperate regions and agreed with the threat hypothesis. Main conclusions These results highlight the need to consider multiple land-use indicators when addressing threats to biodiversity and to separately assess areas with divergent human and ecological histories in global-scale studies. Different relationships associated with different agricultural transition stages suggest that high concentrations of threatened species may have contrasting meanings in different regions worldwide. We propose a new unifying hypothesis following a cyclic relationship along agricultural transition stages resulting in alternating negative and positive relationships between agriculture and threatened species richness.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:75617
Publisher:Wiley

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