Loss of avian phylogenetic diversity in neotropical agricultural systems


Habitat conversion is the primary driver of biodiversity loss, yet little is known about how it is restructuring the tree of life by favoring some lineages over others. We combined a complete avian phylogeny with 12 years of Costa Rican bird surveys (118,127 detections across 487 species) sampled in three land uses: forest reserves, diversified agricultural systems, and intensive monocultures. Diversified agricultural systems supported 600 million more years of evolutionary history than intensive monocultures but 300 million fewer years than forests. Compared with species with many extant relatives, evolutionarily distinct species were extirpated at higher rates in both diversified and intensive agricultural systems. Forests are therefore essential for maintaining diversity across the tree of life, but diversified agricultural systems may help buffer against extreme loss of phylogenetic diversity.

Citation: Frishkoff, L.O., D.S. Karp, L.K. McGonigle, C.D. Mendenhall, J. Zook, C. Kremen, E.A. Hadly, and G.C. Daily 2014 Science 345(6202):1343-1346.

Loss of avian phylogenetic diversity in neotropical agricultural systems

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