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Species composition in fragmented forests: Conservation implications of changing forest area

Record type: Article

An important aspect of forest fragmentation is the ensuing change in forest area and the impact this has on species number and composition. Quantifying this is an important step in prioritizing forest fragments for biodiversity conservation. Species–area curves from isolated forest fragments in Ghana, West Africa, show that large forests contain the greatest number of tree species. Moreover, the additional species found within the larger forest fragments follow a predictable pattern rather than acting as random complements from the community. The proportion of rare tree species increases with forest area, but common species form a stable foundation comprising around two-thirds of the total forest complement. As the area of forest fragments increases, edge effects decrease and the relative proportions of evergreen and shade-tolerating species increase with respect to deciduous pioneers. The use of species–area curves to determine the capacity of small forest remnants to support species diversity should consequently be assessed with respect to the component species. Increasing fragmentation will result in the loss of a valuable portion of the forest ecosystem: the rare and shade-tolerating species. These species will be more effectively preserved within larger forest reserves.

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Citation

Hill, J.L. and Curran, P.J. (2001) Species composition in fragmented forests: Conservation implications of changing forest area Applied Geography, 21, (2), pp. 157-174. (doi:10.1016/S0143-6228(01)00002-9).

More information

Published date: 2001

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 16161
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/16161
ISSN: 0143-6228
PURE UUID: 51716c40-9b57-4832-a2b3-36bfd25c9afa

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Date deposited: 23 Jun 2005
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 16:44

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Contributors

Author: J.L. Hill
Author: P.J. Curran

University divisions

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