As scientists, conservationists, and policy-makers wrestle with how to balance development with maintaining biodiversity, it's important to understand what controls patterns of biodiversity and how the biodiversity of a system will respond to different environmental scenarios.
A new study by Mark Vellend in the August 2005 issue of The American Naturalist is the first to provide a theoretical model showing that the two central measures of biodiversity--the number of species in a system and the number of genetic variants within a specific species--respond similarly to changes in their environment.
For both measures, biodiversity is higher in scenarios with larger parcels of habitat available and where patches of intact habitat are closer together. These results concur with field observations and indicate that human activities that affect one type of biodiversity, such as causing the extinction of species, will produce a similar response in other measures of biodiversity.
For example, it has been shown that both species diversity and genetic diversity of forest plants remain at similarly low levels in secondary forests relative to primary forests, even when secondary forests are upwards of 100 years old.
Sponsored by the American Society of Naturalists, The American Naturalist is a leading journal in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology and animal behavior. For more information, please see our website: www.journals.uchicago.edu/AN
Mark Vellend, "Species diversity and genetic diversity: Parallel processes and correlated patterns" 166:2 August 2005.
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