A study suggests a link between island bird biodiversity and the vulnerability of island bird species to extinction. Previous research has found that high levels of biodiversity can stabilize ecosystem functions and reduce an ecosystem’s vulnerability to extinctions on short time scales. However, the effect of such ecosystem properties on the long-term accumulation of species that are highly vulnerable to extinction in a biodiverse ecosystem remains unknown. Brian Weeks and colleagues compared the collective vulnerability of bird species from 35 islands across Northern Melanesia to the islands’ bird diversity. The authors found that the birds’ collective vulnerability was positively associated with bird diversity, and that this relationship was highly contingent on the island’s history of geographic isolation. According to the authors, the findings suggest that human-driven reductions in ecosystem stability may result in greater biodiversity losses on diverse islands than on less diverse islands, partly because biodiverse islands are likely to have accumulated more vulnerable species. - Read at PNAS.org
Article #16-03866: “Bird assemblage vulnerability depends on the diversity and biogeographic histories of islands,” by Brian C. Weeks, Nichar Gregory, and Shahid Naeem.