, Volume 94, Issue 3, pp 318–329 | Cite as

The effect of insularity on the diversity of land birds in the Fiji islands: implications for refuge design

  • W. N. Beckon
Original Papers


Ecologists have argued over rules of thumb that could be used to set priorities in configuring systems of reserves for preserving biological diversity. To evaluate these simple strategies, I assembled a particularly large and comprehensive data set on the land birds of the Fiji archipelago. I analyzed the species distribution on 220 islands to compare the running total of species preserved by differènt sequences of adding nature reserves to a hypothetical reserve system, treating each island as if it were a potential reserve. A strategy of maximizing the number of islands contributing to any given reserve area (maximum fragmentation) is much more effective at including species than a strategy of maximizing the size of the island components of a reserve (minimum fragmentation). Nevertheless the maximum fragmentation strategy is not a very good one. It is less effective than many random strategies, especially when about 2–10% of total area is to be set aside as reserve, and when only rare species are considered. A computer program was used to determine an “optimal” strategy by maximizing the number of additional species added for each unit of area added. This strategy is always substantially more effective at encompassing species diversity than either the maximum or minimum fragmentation strategies. It is suggested that the poor performance of the minimum fragmentation strategy is due principally to the presence of many smaller-island endemics within the Fiji archipelago. More generally, it is argued that the effect of fragmentation on species diversity depends on the geographic scale and isolation of the region under consideration. In these respects the Fiji Archipelago may be a particularly good model for continental reserve systems.

Key words

Fragmentation Diversity Nature reserves Island biogeography SLOSS 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. N. Beckon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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