Local extinction and turnover rates at the edge and interior of species’ ranges

One hypothesis for the maintenance of the edge of a species’ range suggests that more central (and abundant) populations are relatively stable and edge populations are less stable with increased local extinction and turnover rates. To date, estimates of such metrics are equivocal due to design and analysis flaws. Apparent increased estimates of extinction and turnover rates at the edge of range, versus the interior, could be a function of decreased detection probabilities alone, and not of a biological process. We estimated extinction and turnover rates for species at the interiors and edges of their ranges using an approach which incorporates potential heterogeneity in species detection probabilities. Extinction rates were higher at the edges than in the interiors, as was turnover. Knowledge of extinction and turnover rates is essential in furthering our understanding of range dynamics, and in directing conservation efforts. This study further illustrates the practical application of methods proposed recently for estimating extinction rates and other community dynamic parameters.