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Wednesday, April 11 • 10:00am - 10:15am
RARITY, BIODIVERSITY AND SPECIES DISTRIBUTION: Where the Rare Things Are: A Multi-Scale Assessment of Geographic and Evolutionary Rarity Across U.S. Forests

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AUTHORS: Kevin M. Potter, North Carolina State University

ABSTRACT: The need to conserve forests and their constituent tree species is acute, widespread, and increasingly urgent, so prioritizing species and forests for conservation is an essential management goal. Two factors highly useful for informing conservation efforts at broad scales are the geographic rarity of species, as a general proxy for extinction risk, and their evolutionary distinctiveness (ED), an indicator of their potential to possess rare traits and provide unusual ecosystem services. In this analysis, Rarity and ED scores were calculated for 352 North American forest tree species. Because geographic rarity encompasses multiple facets that vary across scales and are associated with different extinction processes, the Rarity score incorporated national area of distribution as a broad-scale indicator of rarity, national rarity of occurrence as a medium-scale indicator of habitat specificity, and local rarity as a fine-scale indicator of species density. ED was determined based on each species’ location on a phylogenetic supertree of North American forest tree species constructed based on a review of 189 molecular systematics and paleobotanical studies. The Rarity and ED scores were used to weight species importance values on 133,000 Forest Inventory and Analysis plots across the conterminous United States. The resulting plot-level estimates of rarity and ED were employed to identify geographic hotspots of forests with high conservation value, and to assess whether forests with protected status effectively conserve rarity and ED. Rarity hotspots were detected in California, the Southwest, central Texas, and Florida. Hotspots of ED included locations along the Pacific Coast, in the Northern Rockies, and in scattered eastern locations. Protected forest areas effectively conserve ED, but not rarity. Rarity was lowest in areas with the highest protection, and highest in areas with no protected status. This spatially explicit assessment approach can guide which forests to target for monitoring efforts and pro-active management activities.

Wednesday April 11, 2018 10:00am - 10:15am CDT
LaSalle 2 (7th Floor)