Impacts of Habitat Degradation on Tropical Montane Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: A Systematic Map for Identifying Future Research Priorities

Malcolm C. K. Soh, Nicola J. Mitchell, Amanda R. Ridley, Connor W. Butler, Chong Leong Puan, Kelvin S.-H. Peh
2019 Frontiers in Forests and Global Change  
Tropical montane forests (TMFs) are major centers of evolutionary change and harbor many endemic species with small geographic ranges. In this systematic map, we focus on the impacts of anthropogenic habitat degradation on TMFs globally. We first determine how TMF research is distributed across geographic regions, degradation type (i.e., deforestation, land-use conversion, habitat fragmentation, ecological level (i.e., ecosystem, community, population, genetic) and taxonomic group. Secondly, we
more » ... group. Secondly, we summarize the impacts of habitat degradation on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and identify deficiencies in current knowledge. We show that habitat degradation in TMFs impacts biodiversity at all ecological levels and will be compounded by climate change. However, despite montane species being perceived as more extinction-prone due to their restricted geographic ranges, there are some indications of biotic resilience if the impacts to TMFs are less severe. Species richness and key species interactions can be maintained in mildly degraded sites, and gene flow can persist between TMF fragments. As such, minimally degraded areas such as secondary forests and restored areas could play a crucial role in maintaining the meta-community and ecosystem services of TMFs-either via resource provision or by linking patches of pristine forest. Research deficiencies highlighted include poor research representation in Asian and African TMFs, few assessments of population and genetic-level responses to fragmentation, and little assessment of the impacts of habitat fragmentation at all ecological levels. To address these concerns, we present a list of the top research priorities to urgently address the growing threat of habitat degradation in TMF.
doi:10.3389/ffgc.2019.00083 fatcat:e52uk7o6cbg2xgznjq4ng4kovu