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Combining geodiversity with climate and topography to account for threatened species richness

Tukiainen, Helena, Bailey, Joseph, Field, Richard, Kangas, Katja and Hjort, Jan (2016) Combining geodiversity with climate and topography to account for threatened species richness. Conservation Biology, 31 (2). pp. 364-375.

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Abstract

Understanding threatened species diversity is important for long‐term conservation planning. Geodiversity—the diversity of Earth surface materials, forms, and processes—may be a useful biodiversity surrogate for conservation and have conservation value itself. Geodiversity and species richness relationships have been demonstrated; establishing whether geodiversity relates to threatened species’ diversity and distribution pattern is a logical next step for conservation. We used 4 geodiversity variables (rock‐type and soil‐type richness, geomorphological diversity, and hydrological feature diversity) and 4 climatic and topographic variables to model threatened species diversity across 31 of Finland's national parks. We also analyzed rarity‐weighted richness (a measure of site complementarity) of threatened vascular plants, fungi, bryophytes, and all species combined. Our 1‐km2 resolution data set included 271 threatened species from 16 major taxa. We modeled threatened species richness (raw and rarity weighted) with boosted regression trees. Climatic variables, especially the annual temperature sum above 5 °C, dominated our models, which is consistent with the critical role of temperature in this boreal environment. Geodiversity added significant explanatory power. High geodiversity values were consistently associated with high threatened species richness across taxa. The combined effect of geodiversity variables was even more pronounced in the rarity‐weighted richness analyses (except for fungi) than in those for species richness. Geodiversity measures correlated most strongly with species richness (raw and rarity weighted) of threatened vascular plants and bryophytes and were weakest for molluscs, lichens, and mammals. Although simple measures of topography improve biodiversity modeling, our results suggest that geodiversity data relating to geology, landforms, and hydrology are also worth including. This reinforces recent arguments that conserving nature's stage is an important principle in conservation.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12799
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
School/Department: School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/3443

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