Skip to main content

Data from: Species characteristics affect local extinctions

Cite this dataset

Zettlemoyer, Meredith Ann; McKenna, Duane D.; Lau, Jennifer A. (2019). Data from: Species characteristics affect local extinctions [Dataset]. Dryad.


Premise of the study. Human activities threaten thousands of species with extinction. However, it remains difficult to predict extinction risk for many vulnerable species. Species characteristics help predict responses to anthropogenic environmental change and may help predict likelihood of extinction. Phylogenetic signatures of extinction can also provide insights into patterns of species loss. Historical data on species losses can allow for testing phylogenetic patterns in extinctions and identifying traits that influence species vulnerability to local extinction both within particularly threatened habitat types and across habitats. Methods. We use historical botanical data from Kalamazoo County, Michigan, USA, to examine whether species characteristics (community association, native status, growth form, life history, range edge, habitat specialization, N-fixation, photosynthetic pathway, and rarity) or phylogenetic relatedness explain local species loss at the county level. Key results. Across Kalamazoo County, prairie species, species at the edge of their native range, regionally rare species, and habitat specialists were most likely to become locally extinct. Prairie species experienced the highest local extinction rates of any habitat type, and among prairie species, regionally rare and specialist species were most vulnerable to loss. We found no phylogenetic pattern in plant extinctions. Conclusions. Rare, habitat specialist species occupying particularly threatened habitats are most at risk of local extinction. Given that neither phylogenetic patterns nor other characteristics that commonly predict responses to global change predicted extinction in our dataset, identifying mechanisms to conserve rare or declining species and preventing further habitat destruction may be the most effective strategies for reducing future extinction. If you would like your personal information to be removed from the database, please contact the publication office.

Usage notes