Landscape Ecology

, Volume 26, Issue 10, pp 1405–1417 | Cite as

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 YuEmail author
Research Article


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.


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



The authors thank Jinfeng Yuan, Lei Zhang, Pan Chen, Gufeng Zhao and many other students for assistance with field surveys and Prof. Chaozong Zheng and Prof. Bingyang Ding for help with species identification. We are grateful to Chun’an Forestry Bureau and Xin’an River Development Corporation of Chun’an County for support of field works. This study was supported by NSFC (No. 30770371), Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation (No. Z5100053), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities. We also thank the Feeley lab group in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University and the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for their support.

Supplementary material

10980_2011_9662_MOESM1_ESM.docx (83 kb)
Supplementary material: Additional supplementary material may be found online: Appendix S1 List of the plant species recorded on 154 study islands in the Thousand Island Lake, China. (DOCX 82 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guang Hu
    • 1
  • Kenneth J. Feeley
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jianguo Wu
    • 4
    • 5
  • Gaofu Xu
    • 6
  • Mingjian Yu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.The Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology for Endangered Wildlife of the Ministry of EducationCollege of Life Sciences, Zhejiang UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  3. 3.Center for Tropical Plant ConservationFairchild Tropical Botanic GardenCoral GablesUSA
  4. 4.School of Life Sciences & Global Institute of SustainabilityArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  5. 5.Sino-US Center for ConservationEnergy, and Sustainability (SUCCESS), Inner Mongolia UniversityHohhotChina
  6. 6.Xin’an River Development CorporationChun’anChina

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