Rogan, J.E., M.R. Parker, Z.B. Hancock, A.D. Earl, E.K. Buchholtz, K. Chyn, J. Martina, & L.A. Fitzgerald (2023). Genetic and demographic consequences of range contraction patterns during biological annihilation. Scientific Reports 13, 1691. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-28927-z.
Species range contractions both contribute to, and result from, biological annihilation, yet do not receive the same attention as extinctions. Range contractions can lead to marked impacts on populations but are usually characterized only by reduction in extent of range. For effective conservation, it is critical to recognize that not all range contractions are the same. We propose three distinct patterns of range contraction: shrinkage, amputation, and fragmentation. We tested the impact of these patterns on populations of a generalist species using forward-time simulations. All three patterns caused 86–88% reduction in population abundance and significantly increased average relatedness, with differing patterns in declines of nucleotide diversity relative to the contraction pattern. The fragmentation pattern resulted in the strongest effects on post-contraction genetic diversity and structure. Defining and quantifying range contraction patterns and their consequences for Earth’s biodiversity would provide useful and necessary information to combat biological annihilation.