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A trait-based approach to the conservation of threatened plant species

  • Juan C. Álvarez-Yépiz (a1), Alberto Búrquez (a1), Angelina Martínez-Yrízar (a1) and Martin Dovciak (a2)

Abstract

Traditionally the vulnerability of threatened species to extinction has been assessed by studying their environment, genetics and population dynamics. A more comprehensive understanding of the factors promoting or limiting the long-term persistence of threatened species could be achieved by conducting an analysis of their functional responses to changing environments, their ecological interactions, and their role in ecosystem functioning. These less traditional research areas can be unified in a trait-based approach, a recent methodological advance in ecology that is being used to link individual-level functions to species, community and ecosystem processes to provide mechanistic explanations of observed patterns, particularly in changing environments. We illustrate how trait-based information can be translated into well-defined conservation strategies, using the example of Dioon sonorense, an Endangered cycad endemic to north-western Mexico. Scientific information yielded by trait-based research, coupled with existing knowledge derived from well-established traditional approaches, could facilitate the development of more integrative conservation strategies to promote the long-term persistence of individual threatened species. A comprehensive database of functional traits of threatened species would be of value in assisting the implementation of the trait-based approach.

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(Corresponding author) E-mail yepiz@fulbrightmail.org

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Also at: State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, New York, USA

Also at: Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora, Obregón, Sonora, Mexico

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References

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Oryx
  • ISSN: 0030-6053
  • EISSN: 1365-3008
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