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      Prediction of biodiversity hotspots in the Anthropocene: The case of veteran oaks

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          Over the past centuries, humans have transformed large parts of the biosphere, and there is a growing need to understand and predict the distribution of biodiversity hotspots influenced by the presence of humans. Our basic hypothesis is that human influence in the Anthropocene is ubiquitous, and we predict that biodiversity hot spot modeling can be improved by addressing three challenges raised by the increasing ecological influence of humans: (i) anthropogenically modified responses to individual ecological factors, (ii) fundamentally different processes and predictors in landscape types shaped by different land use histories and (iii) a multitude and complexity of natural and anthropogenic processes that may require many predictors and even multiple models in different landscape types. We modeled the occurrence of veteran oaks in Norway, and found, in accordance with our basic hypothesis and predictions, that humans influence the distribution of veteran oaks throughout its range, but in different ways in forests and open landscapes. In forests, geographical and topographic variables related to the oak niche are still important, but the occurrence of veteran oaks is shifted toward steeper slopes, where logging is difficult. In open landscapes, land cover variables are more important, and veteran oaks are more common toward the north than expected from the fundamental oak niche. In both landscape types, multiple predictor variables representing ecological and human‐influenced processes were needed to build a good model, and several models performed almost equally well. Models accounting for the different anthropogenic influences on landscape structure and processes consistently performed better than models based exclusively on natural biogeographical and ecological predictors. Thus, our results for veteran oaks clearly illustrate the challenges to distribution modeling raised by the ubiquitous influence of humans, even in a moderately populated region, but also show that predictions can be improved by explicitly addressing these anthropogenic complexities.

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          Most cited references 48

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          Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities.

          Conservationists are far from able to assist all species under threat, if only for lack of funding. This places a premium on priorities: how can we support the most species at the least cost? One way is to identify 'biodiversity hotspots' where exceptional concentrations of endemic species are undergoing exceptional loss of habitat. As many as 44% of all species of vascular plants and 35% of all species in four vertebrate groups are confined to 25 hotspots comprising only 1.4% of the land surface of the Earth. This opens the way for a 'silver bullet' strategy on the part of conservation planners, focusing on these hotspots in proportion to their share of the world's species at risk.
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            Species Distribution Models: Ecological Explanation and Prediction Across Space and Time

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              Novel ecosystems: implications for conservation and restoration.

              Many ecosystems are rapidly being transformed into new, non-historical configurations owing to a variety of local and global changes. We discuss how new systems can arise in the face of primarily biotic change (extinction and/or invasion), primarily abiotic change (e.g. land use or climate change) and a combination of both. Some changes will result in hybrid systems retaining some original characteristics as well as novel elements, whereas larger changes will result in novel systems, which comprise different species, interactions and functions. We suggest that these novel systems will require significant revision of conservation and restoration norms and practices away from the traditional place-based focus on existing or historical assemblages.

                Author and article information

                Ecol Evol
                Ecol Evol
                Ecology and Evolution
                John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
                31 August 2017
                October 2017
                : 7
                : 19 ( doiID: 10.1002/ece3.2017.7.issue-19 )
                : 7987-7997
                [ 1 ] Norwegian Institute for Nature Research Oslo Norway
                [ 2 ] Natural History Museum University of Oslo Oslo Norway
                [ 3 ] Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management Norwegian University of Life Sciences Ås Norway
                Author notes
                [* ] Correspondence

                Olav Skarpaas, Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

                Email: olav.skarpaas@

                © 2017 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

                This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Figures: 5, Tables: 4, Pages: 11, Words: 8538
                Funded by: Norges Forskningsråd
                Award ID: 208434/F40
                Funded by: Norwegian Environment Agency
                Original Research
                Original Research
                Custom metadata
                October 2017
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_NLMPMC version:5.2.1 mode:remove_FC converted:08.10.2017


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