Effects of habitat disturbance on tropical forest biodiversity

John Alroy*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    180 Citations (Scopus)


    It is widely expected that habitat destruction in the tropics will cause a mass extinction in coming years, but the potential magnitude of the loss is unclear. Existing literature has focused on estimating global extinction rates indirectly or on quantifying effects only at local and regional scales. This paper directly predicts global losses in 11 groups of organisms that would ensue from disturbance of all remaining tropical forest habitats. The results are based on applying a highly accurate method of estimating species richness to 875 ecological samples. About 41% of the tree and animal species in this dataset are absent from disturbed habitats, even though most samples do still represent forests of some kind. The individual figures are 30% for trees and 8-65% for 10 animal groups. Local communities are more robust to disturbance because losses are partially balanced out by gains resulting from homogenization.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)6056-6061
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number23
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2017


    • deforestation
    • lambda-5 index
    • mass extinction
    • multiton subsampling
    • species extinction


    Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of habitat disturbance on tropical forest biodiversity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this