Functional decay in tree community within tropical fragmented landscapes: Effects of landscape-scale forest cover

As tropical rainforests are cleared, forest remnants are increasingly isolated within agricultural landscapes. Understanding how forest loss impacts on species diversity can, therefore, contribute to identifying the minimum amount of habitat required for biodiversity maintenance in human-modified landscapes. Here, we evaluate how the amount of forest cover, at the landscape scale, affects patterns of species richness, abundance, key functional traits and common taxonomic families of adult trees in twenty Brazilian Atlantic rainforest landscapes. We found that as forest cover decreases, both tree community richness and abundance decline, without exhibiting a threshold. At the family-level, species richness and abundance of the Myrtaceae and Sapotaceae were also negatively impacted by the percent forest remaining at the landscape scale. For functional traits, we found a reduction in shade-tolerant, animal-dispersed and small-seeded species following a decrease in the amount of forest retained in landscapes. These results suggest that the amount of forest in a landscape is driving non-random losses in phylogenetic and functional tree diversity in Brazil’s remaining Atlantic rainforests. Our study highlights potential restraints on the conservation value of Atlantic rainforest remnants in deforested landscapes in the future.