It is generally assumed that deforestation affects a species consistently across space, however populations near their geographic range edge may exist at their niche limits and therefore be more sensitive to disturbance. We found that both within and across Atlantic Forest bird species, populations are more sensitive to deforestation when near their range edge. In fact, the negative effects of deforestation on bird occurrences switched to positive in the range core (>829 km), in line with Ellenberg’s rule. We show that the proportion of populations at their range core and edge varies across Brazil, suggesting deforestation effects on communities, and hence the most appropriate conservation action, also vary geographically.
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Bird occurrence datasets and derived datasets are available from https://osf.io/4pbzt/. We do not have rights to redistribute the underlying forest cover (SOS Mata Atlântica, Instituto Florestal) and range polygon (BirdLife) data, but these datasets are available for use under licence.
Code used to perform the analysis is available from https://osf.io/4pbzt/.
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We thank R. D. Holt, C. Rahbek, M. J. Crawley and R. Ewers for comments on the study and manuscript. This paper represents a contribution to the Grand Challenges in Ecosystems and the Environment Initiative of Imperial College. We acknowledge the use of the Imperial College Research Computing Service (https://doi.org/10.14469/hpc/2232). This research was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (grant nos. NE/H016228/1, NE/K016393/1) and FAPESP (process no. 2012/51872-5).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Orme, C.D.L., Mayor, S., dos Anjos, L. et al. Distance to range edge determines sensitivity to deforestation. Nat Ecol Evol 3, 886–891 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-019-0889-z
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