The susceptibility of species to extinctions in model communities

2011 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​The susceptibility of species to extinctions in model communities​
Binzer, A.; Brose, U.; Curtsdotter, A.; Ekloef, A.; Rall, B. C.; Riede, J. O. & de Castro, F.​ (2011) 
Basic and Applied Ecology12(7) pp. 590​-599​.​ DOI: 

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Binzer, Amrei; Brose, Ulrich; Curtsdotter, Alva; Ekloef, Anna; Rall, Bjoern Christian; Riede, Jens O.; de Castro, Francisco
Despite the fact that the loss of a species from a community has the potential to cause a dramatic decline in biodiversity, for example through cascades of secondary extinctions, little is known about the factors contributing to the extinction risk of any particular species. Here we expand earlier modeling approaches using a dynamic food-web model that accounts for bottom-up as well as top-down effects. We investigate what factors influence a species' extinction risk and time to extinction of the non-persistent species. We identified three basic properties that affect a species' risk of extinction. The highest extinction risk is born by species with (1) low energy input (e.g. high trophic level), (2) susceptibility to the loss of energy pathways (e.g. specialists with few prey species) and (3) dynamic instability (e.g. low Hill exponent and reliance on homogeneous energy channels when feeding on similarly sized prey). Interestingly, and different from field studies, we found that the trophic level and not the body mass of a species influences its extinction risk. On the other hand, body mass is the single most important factor determining the time to extinction of a species, resulting in small species dying first. This suggests that in the field the trophic level might have more influence on the extinction risk than presently recognized.
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Elsevier Gmbh, Urban & Fischer Verlag
Basic and Applied Ecology 
ESF; German Research Foundation [BR 2315/13, BR 2315/11-1]



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