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The robustness of a network of ecological networks to habitat loss

Evans, Darren M.; Memmott, Jane; Pocock, Michael J O

Authors

Jane Memmott

Michael J O Pocock


Contributors

Jennifer Dunne
Editor

Abstract

There have been considerable advances in our understanding of the tolerance of species interaction networks to sequential extinctions of plants and animals. However, communities of species exist in a mosaic of habitats, and the vulnerability of habitats to anthropogenic change varies. Here, we model the cascading effects of habitat loss, driven by plant extinctions, on the robustness of multiple animal groups. Our network is constructed from empirical observations of 11 animal groups in 12 habitats on farmland. We simulated sequential habitat removal scenarios: randomly; according to prior information; and with a genetic algorithm to identify best- and worst-case permutations of habitat loss. We identified two semi-natural habitats (waste ground and hedgerows together comprising < 5% of the total area of the farm) as disproportionately important to the integrity of the overall network. Our approach provides a new tool for network ecologists and for directing the management and restoration of multiple-habitat sites. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS.

Journal Article Type Letter
Publication Date 2013-07
Journal Ecology letters
Print ISSN 1461-023X
Electronic ISSN 1461-0248
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 7
Pages 844-852
DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12117
Keywords Bio-control, Biodiversity, Bio-indicators, Ecosystem function, Ecosystem services, Extinction, Nature conservation, Plant-animal interaction, Pollination, Restoration
Publisher URL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ele.12117/full
Additional Information Authors' accepted manuscript of article published in: Ecology letters, 2013, v.16, issue 7

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