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      Beetle Species–Area Relationships and Extinction Rates in Protected Areas

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          Abstract

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          Larger areas tend to host more species. This general ecological pattern (known as the species–area relationship, SAR) can be used to calculate expected extinction rates following area (habitat) loss. Here, using data from Italian reserves, SAR-based extinction rates are calculated for beetle groups with different ecology: terrestrial predators, aquatic predators, dung feeders, herbivores, and detritivores. Reserve area was an important predictor of species richness in all cases. However, also other factors besides area were important correlates of species richness. For some groups, species richness tends to decline with elevation and/or northwards. Extinction rates are higher for dung beetles, due to their dependence on large grazing areas, and detritivores, due to their low dispersal capabilities, which reduce their ability to reach new places when environmental conditions became less favorable. The lower extinction rates predicted for other groups can be explained by their higher dispersal ability. Extinction rates by area loss are always relatively low. This means that, in reserves with few species, many extinctions might be unnoticed.

          Abstract

          The species–area relationship (SAR, i.e., the increase in species richness with area) is one of the most general ecological patterns. SARs can be used to calculate expected extinction rates following area (habitat) loss. Here, using data from Italian reserves, extinction rates were calculated for beetle groups with different feeding habits: Carabidae (terrestrial predators), Hydradephaga (aquatic predators), coprophagous Scarabaeoidea (dung feeders), phytophagous Scarabaeoidea (herbivores), and Tenebrionidae (detritivores). The importance of other factors besides area (namely latitude and elevation) was investigated. Reserve area was recovered as an important predictor of species richness in all cases. For Carabidae, Hydradephaga, and Tenebrionidae, elevation exerted a negative influence, whereas latitude had a negative influence on coprophagous Scarabaeoidea and Tenebrionidae, as a consequence of current and historical biogeographical factors. Extinction rates were higher for dung beetles, due to their dependence on large grazing areas, and Tenebrionidae, due to their low dispersal capabilities. The lower extinction rates predicted for Carabidae, phytophagous Scarabaeoidea, and Hydradephaga can be explained by their higher dispersal power. If other variables besides area are considered, extinction rates became more similar among groups. Extinction rates by area loss are always relatively low. Thus, in reserves with few species, many local extinctions might be unnoticed.

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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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            The Statistics and Biology of the Species-Area Relationship

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              A comprehensive phylogeny of beetles reveals the evolutionary origins of a superradiation.

              Beetles represent almost one-fourth of all described species, and knowledge about their relationships and evolution adds to our understanding of biodiversity. We performed a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of Coleoptera inferred from three genes and nearly 1900 species, representing more than 80% of the world's recognized beetle families. We defined basal relationships in the Polyphaga supergroup, which contains over 300,000 species, and established five families as the earliest branching lineages. By dating the phylogeny, we found that the success of beetles is explained neither by exceptional net diversification rates nor by a predominant role of herbivory and the Cretaceous rise of angiosperms. Instead, the pre-Cretaceous origin of more than 100 present-day lineages suggests that beetle species richness is due to high survival of lineages and sustained diversification in a variety of niches.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Insects
                Insects
                insects
                Insects
                MDPI
                2075-4450
                21 September 2020
                September 2020
                : 11
                : 9
                : 646
                Affiliations
                Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences, University of L’Aquila, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy; simone.fattorini@ 123456univaq.it
                Author information
                https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4517-2135
                Article
                insects-11-00646
                10.3390/insects11090646
                7563763
                32967143
                c12848f8-cc1c-489a-bc43-0277130df371
                © 2020 by the author.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                History
                : 21 August 2020
                : 17 September 2020
                Categories
                Article

                species–area relationship,elevational gradient,latitudinal gradient,reserves,biological conservation,extinction rates,coleoptera,mediterranean,italy

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