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Biodiversity hotspots and Ocbil theory

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Abstract

Background

Ocbil theory aims to develop hypotheses explaining the evolution and ecology of, and best conservation practices for, biota on very old, climatically buffered, infertile landscapes (Ocbils).

Scope

This paper reviews recent multi-disciplinary literature inspired by or reacting to aspects of Ocbil theory and discusses how it can assist conservation in biodiversity hotspots.

Conclusions

Ocbils occur in at least 12 out of 35 known terrestrial hotspots, but also in other biologically significant sites. Most evidence comes from the Southwest Australian and Greater Cape Floristic Regions, South America’s Pantepui, and the Campo Rupestre of Brazil, though predictions of the theory have been corroborated in 22 sites across South America, Western and Eastern Africa, Southern Asia, and Oceania. Most hypotheses have been corroborated, indicating that Ocbil theory has survived largely intact after 6 years of independent scientific critique, quantitative experimentation, and development. The theory also has been extended to allow identification and characterization of OCBISs (old, climatically-buffered, infertile seascapes), and OCFELs (old, climatically-buffered, fertile landscapes). We illustrate that the principles of Ocbil theory are key to conservation of biodiversity at global scale and provide new directions for research that can improve the theoretical and practical contributions of Ocbil theory.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to many colleagues who have helped advance our reading of the contemporary literature or assisted in research. Assembly of the paper was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award to SDH as part of a Discovery Project on vertebrate pollination ecology (DP140103357). Grants from the Great Southern Development Commission and Jack Family Trust also assisted materially. FAOS acknowledges a research productivity scholarship by CNPq. PLF was supported in part by research contracts from the University of Western Australia and the Western Australia Department of Parks and Wildlife Conservation. Richard Cowling provided constructive comments on the manuscript, as did six referees and the editor. N.P.U. Barbosa and D. Negreiros helped with Figures.

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Appendix

Appendix

Table 1 Seven hypotheses derived from OCBIL theory (Hopper 2009), with relevant predictions and examples published since 2009. Also listed are new papers pertinent to the evolutionary conundrum of fire regimes in OCBILs, and other major topics in conservation biology raised by OCBIL Theory

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Hopper, S.D., Silveira, F.A.O. & Fiedler, P.L. Biodiversity hotspots and Ocbil theory. Plant Soil 403, 167–216 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-015-2764-2

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