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Extinction filters mediate the global effects of fragmentation on animals

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Marion PfeiferORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by American Association for the Advancemnet of Science, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Habitat loss is the primary driver of biodiversity decline worldwide, but the effects of fragmentation(the spatial arrangement of remaining habitat) are debated. We tested the hypothesis that forestfragmentation sensitivity—affected by avoidance of habitat edges—should be driven by historicalexposure to, and therefore species’ evolutionary responses to, disturbance. Using a database containing73 datasets collected worldwide (encompassing 4489 animal species), we found that the proportionof fragmentation-sensitive species was nearly three times as high in regions with low rates of historicaldisturbance compared with regions with high rates of disturbance (i.e., fires, glaciation, hurricanes,and deforestation). These disturbances coincide with a latitudinal gradient in which sensitivity increasessixfold at low versus high latitudes. We conclude that conservation efforts to limit edges created byfragmentation will be most important in the world’s tropical forests.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Betts MG, Wolf C, Pfeifer M, Banks-Leite C, Arroyo-Rodriguez V, Bandini Ribeiro D, Barlow J, Eigenbrod F, Faria D, Fletcher Jr. RJ, Hadley AS, Hawes JE, Holt RD, Klingbeil B, Kormann U, Lens L, Levi T, Medina-Rangel GF, Melles SL, Mezger D, Morante-Filho JC, Orme CDL, Peres CA, Phalan BT, Pidgeon A, Possingham H, Ripple WJ, Slade EM, Somarriba E, Tobias JA, Tylianakis JM, Urbina-Cardona JN, Valente JJ, Watling JI, Wells K, Wearn OR, Wood E, Young R, Ewers RM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Science

Year: 2019

Volume: 366

Issue: 6470

Pages: 1236-1239

Online publication date: 06/12/2019

Acceptance date: 23/10/2019

Date deposited: 26/11/2019

ISSN (print): 0036-8075

ISSN (electronic): 1095-9203

Publisher: American Association for the Advancemnet of Science


DOI: 10.1126/science.aax9387


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