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Ash dieback risks an extinction cascade

Hultberg, Tove and Sandström, Jonas and Felton, Adam and Öhman, Karin and Rönnberg, Jonas and Witzell, Johanna and Cleary, Michelle (2020). Ash dieback risks an extinction cascade. Biological Conservation. 244 , 108516 , 1-9
[Research article]

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Large-scale decline in populations of European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) are occurring throughout Europe due to the invasive fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. This has grave ecological implications not only for ash trees, but also for the biodiversity supported by, and in some cases solely dependent on ash. Here we used data on the tree-species associations of biodiversity in Sweden, to predict extinction risks for ash-associated organisms, and the potential for combinations of other tree species to sustain ash-associated biodiversity. Of the 483 ash-associated species identified, 11% are exclusive to ash, and a further 23% prefer mainly ash. Notably, many ash-associated species are shared with wych elm (Ulmus glabra) which is similarly threatened by an invasive fungus. Considering the level of host association and the species' conservation status, 115 species were deemed at high risk of regional extinction. Using a mathematical optimization model we found that up to nine additional tree species would be needed to sustain all non-obligate ash dependent/preferring species in the absence of ash and elm. We discuss mitigation and adaption options to reduce the potential for an extinction cascade and conserve ash-associated biodiversity, but all pose unique challenges.

Authors/Creators:Hultberg, Tove and Sandström, Jonas and Felton, Adam and Öhman, Karin and Rönnberg, Jonas and Witzell, Johanna and Cleary, Michelle
Title:Ash dieback risks an extinction cascade
Series Name/Journal:Biological Conservation
Year of publishing :2020
Article number:108516
Number of Pages:9
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Keywords:biodiversity, regional extinction, European ash (Fraxinus excelsior), invasive fungus, Hymenoscyphus fraxineus
Permanent URL:
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
Web of Science (WoS)000526787400002
ID Code:16960
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(NL, NJ) > Swedish Species Information Centre
(S) > Dept. of Forest Resource Management
(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Forest Resource Management

(S) > Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:08 May 2020 08:29
Metadata Last Modified:15 Jan 2021 19:22

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