Effects of isolation, logging and dispersal on woody-species richness of islands

Ronen Kadmon*, H. Ronald Pulliam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Isolation effects on species richness of woody plants were investigated in a system of islands that were created by the filling of the Clarks Hill Reservoir, Georgia. This reservoir was built between 1946-1954. Some islands were logged and cleared of woody plants prior to the filling of the reservoir and others were not logged. The presence of logged versus unlogged islands in the same system allowed us to test whether and how geographical isolation interacts with island history and species-specific dispersal properties in determining patterns of among-island variation in species number. Thirty-six years after the islands were created, logged islands had significantly fewer species of woody plants than unlogged ones. On logged islands, total number of woody species was negatively correlated with distance to the closest mainland (r=-0.95). On unlogged islands, variation in species number was very low (CV=4.9%) and was not correlated with distance to the mainland. These results indicate that the studied system as a whole has not yet reached equilibrium. However, the mean number of species on unlogged islands was very close to the intercept of the regression obtained for logged islands, suggesting that islands close to the mainland have already reached their equilibrium species richness. This conclusion is consistent with predictions of island biogeography theory. When species representing different dispersal properties were analyzed separately, statistically significant distance effects were obtained for bird-dispersed species (r=0.88) and for species with no adaptations to bird or wind dispersal (r=0.81). Wind-dispersed species did not show a decrease in species number with increasing isolation, but their relative frequency was positively and significantly correlated with distance to the mainland (r=0.94). Historical factors, as well as differences among species in dispersal properties, are important in explaining patterns of among-island variation in species number.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)63-68
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Clarks Hill Reservoir (Georgia)
  • Dispersal
  • Island biogeography
  • Isolation
  • Species richness


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