Resistance and resilience: quantifying relative extinction risk in a diverse assemblage of Australian tropical rainforest vertebrates

Isaac, Joanne L., VanDerWal, Jeremy, Johnson, Christopher N., and Williams, Stephen (2009) Resistance and resilience: quantifying relative extinction risk in a diverse assemblage of Australian tropical rainforest vertebrates. Diversity and Distributions, 15 (2). pp. 280-288.

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Aim: Assessing the relative vulnerability of species within an assemblage to extinction is crucial for conservation planning at the regional scale. Here, we quantify relative vulnerability to extinction, in terms of both resistance and resilience to environmental change, in an assemblage of tropical rainforest vertebrates.

Location: Wet Tropics Bioregion, north Queensland, Australia.

Methods: We collated data on 163 vertebrates that occur in the Australian Wet Tropics, including 24 frogs, 33 reptiles, 19 mammals and 87 birds. We used the 'seven forms of rarity' model to assess relative vulnerability or resistance to environmental change. We then develop a new analogous eight-celled model to assess relative resilience, or potential to recover from environmental perturbation, based on reproductive output, potential for dispersal and climatic niche marginality.

Results: In the rarity model, our assemblage had more species very vulnerable and very resistant than expected by chance. There was a more even distribution of species over the categories in the resilience model. The three traits included in each model were not independent of each other; species that were widespread were also habitat generalists, while species with narrow geographical ranges tended to be locally abundant. In the resilience model, species with low reproductive output had a narrow climatic niche and also a low capacity to disperse. Frogs were the most vulnerable taxonomic group overall. The model categories were compared to current IUCN category of listed species, and the product of the two models was best correlated with IUCN listings.

Main conclusions: The models presented here offer an objective way to predict the resistance of a species to environmental change, and its capacity to recover from disturbance. The new resilience model has similar advantages to the rarity model, in that it uses simple information and is therefore useful for examining patterns in assemblages with many poorly known species.

Item ID: 4798
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1472-4642
Keywords: Australian Wet Tropics, climate change, endemic, habitat loss, montane, restricted, vulnerability, tropical biology
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2009 06:46
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 70%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060208 Terrestrial Ecology @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 50%
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