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Ecology. 2011 Aug;92(8):1559-64.

Can dispersal mode predict corridor effects on plant parasites?

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Iowa State University, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, 253 Bessey Hall, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA.


Habitat corridors, a common management strategy for increasing connectivity in fragmented landscapes, have experimentally validated positive influences on species movement and diversity. However, long-standing concerns that corridors could negatively impact native species by spreading antagonists, such as disease, remain largely untested. Using a large-scale, replicated experiment, we evaluated whether corridors increase the incidence of plant parasites. We found that corridor impacts varied with parasite dispersal mode. Connectivity provided by corridors increased incidence of biotically dispersed parasites (galls on Solidago odora) but not of abiotically dispersed parasites (foliar fungi on S. odora and three Lespedeza spp.). Both biotically and abiotically dispersed parasites responded to edge effects, but the direction of responses varied across species. Although our results require additional tests for generality to other species and landscapes, they suggest that, when establishing conservation corridors, managers should focus on mitigating two potential negative effects: the indirect effects of narrow corridors in creating edges and direct effects of corridors in enhancing connectivity of biotically dispersed parasites.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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