Determinants of plant species richness and patterns of nestedness in fragmented landscapes: Evidence from land-bridge islands

Guang Hu, Kenneth J. Feeley, Jianguo Wu, Gaofu Xu, Mingjian Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Land-bridge islands formed by dam construction are considered to be "experimental" systems for studying the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation, offering many distinct advantages over terrestrial fragments. The Thousand Island Lake in Southeast China is one such land-bridge system with more than 1000 islands. Based on a field survey of vascular plant richness on 154 land-bridge islands during 2007-2008, we examined the effects of island and landscape attributes on plant species richness and patterns of species nestedness. We also examined the different responses of plant functional groups (classified according to growth form and shade tolerance) to fragmentation. We found that island area explained the greatest amount of variation in plant species richness. Island area and shape index positively affected species diversity and the degree of nestedness exhibited by plant communities while the perimeter to area ratio of the islands had a negative effect. Shade-tolerant plants were the most sensitive species group to habitat fragmentation. Isolation negatively affected the degree of nestedness in herb and shade-intolerant plants including species with various dispersal abilities in the fragmented landscape. Based on these results, we concluded that the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on overall species richness depended mostly on the degree of habitat loss, but patterns of nestedness were generated from different ecological mechanisms due to species-specific responses to different characteristics of habitat patches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1405-1417
Number of pages13
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Community assembly
  • Functional group
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Landscape spatial attributes
  • Plant diversity
  • Species-area relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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