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Relations Between Regional-Local Habitat Loss and Metapopulation Properties of Epiphyllous Bryophytes in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest

Alvarenga, Lisi D.P., Pôrto, Kátia C., Silva, Mércia P.P.
Biotropica 2009 v.41 no.6 pp. 682-691
Bryopsida, conservation areas, epiphytes, habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, habitats, landscapes, leaves, tropical rain forests, Brazil
Richness and occupancy patterns of epiphyll bryophytes in a fragmented landscape of tropical rain forests in northeastern Brazil (Murici Ecological Station) were investigated to assess the influence of regional and local disappearance of habitat on epiphyllous metapopulation indicators. Bryophytes were collected from ten forest fragments, from the fragment's border to 100 m inside the forest. The number of colonized phorophytes and the cover on leaves were scored. Decreasing trends in regional and local abundance linked to habitat loss were observed, which may be related to the sexual and asexual expression. Although fertility was not related to constancy in the fragments, frequently fertile species colonized more sites within fragments than infertile species. Landscape metrics and indicators of habitat quality explained better the variation in epiphyll richness and occupancy than distance from the forest's edge. This suggests that the abrupt habitat quality modification resulting from edge creation is secondary in the area studied, while irreversible landscape modifications still play an important role. The results add to empirical support that metapopulations are prone to negative and long-term effects in fragmented landscapes. Thus, the selection of priority areas for conservation must take into account the remaining amount of habitat as well as the connectivity between the landscape's patches.