Patch-scale biodiversity retention in fragmented landscapes: Reconciling the habitat amount hypothesis with the island biogeography theory

Anderson Saldanha Bueno, Carlos A. Peres

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Aim: To test whether the species richness of understorey insectivorous birds on forest islands induced by a major hydroelectric dam is best explained by either the island biogeography theory (IBT) or the habitat amount hypothesis (HAH). Given the low dispersal ability of the focal species group and the hostile water matrix, we predict that the species richness will be predominantly driven by an island effect as posited by the IBT, rather than a sample area effect as posited by the HAH. Location: Forest islands within the Balbina Hydroelectric Reservoir, central Brazilian Amazonia. Taxon: Birds. Methods: We mist-netted birds at 33 forest islands (0.63–1,699 ha), totalling 874 individuals of 59 species. The size of the local landscape used to calculate the habitat amount was determined by a multi-scale analysis in which buffers around mist-net lines ranged from 50 to 2,000 m. We applied four tests to examine whether the species richness on forest islands is predominantly driven by either an island effect (island size) or a sample area effect (habitat amount). Results: From the four tests applied, one was consistent with an island effect, two were regarded as inappropriate to test the HAH, and one could not be adequately addressed due to island size being highly correlated with habitat amount in the local landscape (200-m buffer). Main conclusions: Some of the proposed ways of testing the HAH may lead to misleading conclusions. The relative importance of island size in determining the species richness of understorey insectivorous birds on forest islands is higher than that of surrounding habitat amount, thereby providing stronger support for IBT. We propose a conceptual framework, based on the degree of matrix permeability and species dispersal ability, to determine to what extent a patch- or landscape-centric worldview in landscape ecology provides the most appropriate framework to assess the effects of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-632
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Amazonia
  • habitat amount hypothesis
  • habitat fragmentation
  • habitat loss
  • insularization
  • island biogeography theory
  • species richness
  • Species–area relationship
  • tropical forest

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