Extreme contagion in global habitat clearance

Boakes, EH, Mace, GM, McGowan, PJK and Fuller, RA (2010) Extreme contagion in global habitat clearance. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London - B, 277 1684: 1081-1085. doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.1771

Author Boakes, EH
Mace, GM
McGowan, PJK
Fuller, RA
Title Extreme contagion in global habitat clearance
Journal name Proceedings of the Royal Society of London - B   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0962-8452
Publication date 2010-04
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1098/rspb.2009.1771
Volume 277
Issue 1684
Start page 1081
End page 1085
Total pages 5
Editor Michael P. Hassell
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher The Royal Society
Collection year 2010
Language eng
Subject C1
050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified
Abstract Habitat clearance remains the major cause of biodiversity loss, with consequences for ecosystem services and for people. In response to this, many global conservation schemes direct funds to regions with high rates of recent habitat destruction, though some also emphasize the conservation of remaining large tracts of intact habitat. If the pattern of habitat clearance is highly contagious, the latter approach will help prevent destructive processes gaining a foothold in areas of contiguous intact habitat. Here, we test the strength of spatial contagion in the pattern of habitat clearance. Using a global dataset of land-cover change at 50 50 km resolution, we discover that intact habitat areas in grid cells are refractory to clearance only when all neighbouring cells are also intact. The likelihood of loss increases dramatically as soon as habitat is cleared in just one neighbouring cell, and remains high thereafter. This effect is consistent for forests and grassland, across biogeographic realms and over centuries, constituting a coherent global pattern. Our results show that landscapes become vulnerable to wholesale clearance as soon as threatening processes begin to penetrate, so actions to prevent any incursions into large, intact blocks of natural habitat are key to their long-term persistence.
Keyword habitat loss
global change biology
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

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Created: Sun, 14 Mar 2010, 00:00:44 EST