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Parallel declines in species and genetic diversity driven by anthropogenic disturbance: a multispecies approach in a French Atlantic dune system.
Numerous studies assess the correlation between genetic and species diversities, but the processes underlying the observed patterns have only received limited attention. For instance, varying levels of habitat disturbance across a region may locally reduce both diversities due to extinctions, and increased genetic drift during population bottlenecks and founder events. We investigated the regional distribution of genetic and species diversities of a coastal sand dune plant community along 240 kilometers of coastline with the aim to test for a correlation between the two diversity levels. We further quantify and tease apart the respective contributions of natural and anthropogenic disturbance factors to the observed patterns. We detected significant positive correlation between both variables. We further revealed a negative impact of urbanization: Sites with a high amount of recreational infrastructure within 10 km coastline had significantly lowered genetic and species diversities. On the other hand, a measure of natural habitat disturbance had no effect. This study shows that parallel variation of genetic and species diversities across a region can be traced back to human landscape alteration, provides arguments for a more resolute dune protection, and may help to design priority conservation areas.
biodiversity, coastal conservation, disturbance, habitat loss, sand dunes, species-genetic diversity correlation metapopulation model, urbanization
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