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Magrach A.,Laboratory Of Spatial Ecology Mediterranean Institute For Advanced Studies | Larrinaga A.R.,Laboratory Of Spatial Ecology Mediterranean Institute For Advanced Studies | Santamaria L.,Laboratory Of Spatial Ecology Mediterranean Institute For Advanced Studies
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Habitat fragmentation has become one of the major threats to biodiversity worldwide, particularly in the case of forests, which have suffered enormous losses during the past decades. We analyzed how changes in patch configuration and habitat quality derived from the fragmentation of austral temperate rainforests affect the distribution of six species of forest-dwelling climbing and epiphytic angiosperms. Epiphyte and vine abundance is primarily affected by the internal characteristics of patches (such as tree size, the presence of logging gaps or the proximity to patch edges) rather than patch and landscape features (such as patch size, shape or connectivity). These responses were intimately related to species-specific characteristics such as drought- or shade-tolerance. Our study therefore suggests that plant responses to fragmentation are contingent on both the species' ecology and the specific pathways through which the study area is being fragmented, (i.e. extensive logging that shaped the boundaries of current forest patches plus recent, unregulated logging that creates gaps within patches). Management practices in fragmented landscapes should therefore consider habitat quality within patches together with other spatial attributes at landscape or patch scales. © 2012 Magrach et al. Source


Latorre L.,Laboratory Of Spatial Ecology Mediterranean Institute For Advanced Studies | Larrinaga A.R.,Laboratory Of Spatial Ecology Mediterranean Institute For Advanced Studies | Santamaria L.,Laboratory Of Spatial Ecology Mediterranean Institute For Advanced Studies
Journal of Ecology | Year: 2013

Herbivores and granivores represent one of the most influential drivers of plant abundance and population dynamics. Their effect can be, in turn, modulated by biotic or abiotic factors such as community composition, habitat characteristics or space heterogeneity. Recent approaches to the study of herbivore and granivore impacts on plants have considered the combined action of multiple herbivore species, the effect of herbivores on several plant life stages or the effect of environmental gradients on these interactions. However, studies addressing the effect of multiple herbivore species on different plant life stages are still lacking. We estimated the combined effect of multiple exotic herbivores (European rabbits, Oryctolagus cuniculus; black rats, Rattus rattus; and house mouse, Mus musculus) on four different life stages of an endangered plant species (Medicago citrina, Fabaceae). Mortality for seed, seedling and sapling was estimated at three types of plots (open, rat exclusion and rat + rabbit exclusion) replicated at four sites (N = 3 per site and treatment) within Cabrera Island (Balearic Islands, western Mediterranean). Browsing of reproductive adults was simulated under common-garden conditions (Sóller Botanic Garden, Mallorca Island) and its effect on reproductive effort and success measured. European rabbits and black rats had complementary impacts on the different life stages of M. citrina. These included independent effects on different life stages (seed predation by rats, seedling predation by rabbits), which resulted in multiplicative increases in plant mortality, and concurrent effects on the same life stage (sapling predation). In addition, the simulated-herbivory experiment showed that a low rate of canopy removal (25% of initial biomass) already causes a strong decrease in fruit set (from 54% to 30%), but increasing rates of canopy removal do not increase this effect. Synthesis. Our results stress the importance of considering the combined effects of different herbivores on several life stages of the plant's life cycle and their consecutive effects on population dynamics. From an applied point of view, future reintroduction attempts of M. citrina in Cabrera Island should consider measures to either control the populations of both exotic herbivores or mitigate their impacts on the earlier recruitment stages of the plant (seeds, seedlings and saplings). © 2012 The Authors. Journal of Ecology © 2012 British Ecological Society. Source

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