Santos B.A., Arroyo-Rodríguez V., Moreno C.E., Tabarelli M. (2010) Edge-related loss of tree phylogenetic diversity in the severely fragmented Brazilian Atlantic Forest. PLoS ONE 5(9): e12625. Preprinted
Deforestation and forest fragmentation are known major causes of nonrandom extinction, but there is no information about their impact on the phylogenetic diversity of the remaining species assemblages. Using a large vegetation dataset from an old hyper-fragmented landscape in the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest we assess whether the local extirpation of tree species and functional impoverishment of tree assemblages reduce the phylogenetic diversity of the remaining tree assemblages. We detected a significant loss of tree phylogenetic diversity in forest edges, but not in core areas of small (,80 ha) forest fragments. This was attributed to a reduction of 11% in the average phylogenetic distance between any two randomly chosen individuals from forest edges; an increase of 17% in the average phylogenetic distance to closest non-conspecific relative for each individual in forest edges; and to the potential manifestation of late edge effects in the core areas of small forest remnants. We found no evidence supporting fragmentation-induced phylogenetic clustering or evenness. This could be explained by the low phylogenetic conservatism of key life-history traits corresponding to vulnerable species. Edge effects must be reduced to effectively protect tree phylogenetic diversity in the severely fragmented Brazilian Atlantic forest.