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Multiple facets of biodiversity are threatened by mining-induced land-use change in the Brazilian Amazon

Lloyd TJ, Oliveira U, Soares-Filho BS, Fuller RA, Butt N, Ascher JS, Barbosa JPPP, Batista JAN, Brescovit AD, de Carvalho CJB, De Marco P, Ferro VG, Fortes Leite FS, Löwenberg-Neto P, Paglia AP, Teixeira de Rezende D, Santos AJ, Silva DP, Ferreira de Vasconcelos M & Sonter LJ (2023) Multiple facets of biodiversity are threatened by mining-induced land-use change in the Brazilian Amazon. Diversity and Distributions, 29, 1190-1204.

Aim: Mining is increasingly pressuring areas of critical importance for biodiversity conservation, such as the Brazilian Amazon. Biodiversity data are limited in the tropics, restricting the scope for risks to be appropriately estimated before mineral licensing decisions are made. As the distributions and range sizes of other taxa differ markedly from those of vertebrates—the common proxy for analysis of risk to biodiversity from mining—whether mining threatens lesser-studied taxonomic groups differentially at a regional scale is unclear.

Location: Brazilian Amazon.

Methods: We assess risks to several facets of biodiversity from industrial mining by comparing mining areas (within 70 km of an active mining lease) and areas unaffected by mining, employing species richness, species endemism, phylogenetic diversity and phylogenetic endemism metrics calculated for angiosperms, arthropods and vertebrates.

Results: Mining areas contained higher densities of species occurrence records than the unaffected landscape, and we accounted for this sampling bias in our analyses. None of the four biodiversity metrics differed between mining and nonmining areas for vertebrates. For arthropods, species endemism was greater in mined areas. Mined areas also had greater angiosperm species richness, phylogenetic diversity and phylogenetic endemism, although less species endemism than unmined areas.

Main Conclusions: Unlike for vertebrates, facets of angiosperm and arthropod diversity are relatively higher in areas of mining activity, underscoring the need to consider multiple taxonomic groups and biodiversity facets when assessing risk and evaluating management options for mining threats. Particularly concerning is the proximity of mining to areas supporting deep evolutionary history, which may be impossible to recover or replace. As pressures to expand mining in the Amazon grow, impact assessments with broader taxonomic reach and metric focus will be vital to conserving biodiversity in mining regions.

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