Skip to main content Accessibility help

Habitat Loss Challenges the Conservation of Endemic Plants in Mining-Targeted Brazilian Mountains

  • Debora M Salles (a1), Flávio F do Carmo (a2) and Claudia M Jacobi (a1)


Ironstone outcrop habitats harbour rare and endemic rupicolous plants. In southeast Brazil, they concentrate on mountaintops in the Iron Quadrangle (IQ), an intensively exploited iron ore reserve. To evaluate the current habitat availability of 32 plants endemic to canga (ironstone outcrops) and to support priority conservation areas and actions, we compared their functional connectivity in the IQ before (1960s) and after (2014) massive habitat loss to opencast mining. The Integral Index of Connectivity and associated metrics of habitat availability were used to evaluate present and past connectivity at a threshold distance of 500 m. The overall canga habitat loss up to 2014 was 50%. The historical configuration of 334 patches totalling 18 654 ha was already disconnected and the proportion of patches acting as relevant stepping stones was thus very low. Furthermore, in both the historical and current settings, the largest contribution to habitat availability came from ‘intrapatch connectivity’ (i.e., patch area), especially in the east sector. All the IQ canga endemics fall into the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Critically Endangered category and require protection. The recommended strategy for their conservation is to protect large, preferably well-preserved ironstone patches. This measure will require finding the middle ground between economic development and conservation of natural heritage.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Habitat Loss Challenges the Conservation of Endemic Plants in Mining-Targeted Brazilian Mountains
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Habitat Loss Challenges the Conservation of Endemic Plants in Mining-Targeted Brazilian Mountains
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Habitat Loss Challenges the Conservation of Endemic Plants in Mining-Targeted Brazilian Mountains
      Available formats


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Professor Claudia M Jacobi, Email:


Hide All
Banks, JE (1997) Do imperfect trade-offs affect the extinction debt phenomenon? Ecology 78: 15971601.
Bottrill, MC, Joseph, LN, Carwardine, J, Bode, M, Cook, CN, Game, ET, Grantham, H et al. (2009) Finite conservation funds mean triage is unavoidable. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 24: 183184.
Brasil (2014) Decreto de 13 de Outubro de 2014 Cria o Parque Nacional da Serra do Gandarela, Localizado nos Municípios de Nova Lima, Raposos, Caeté, Santa Bárbara, Mariana, Ouro Preto, Itabirito e Rio Acima. Minas Gerais, Brazil: Casa Civil.
Butcher, PA, McNee, SA, Krauss, SL (2009). Genetic impacts of habitat loss on the rare ironstone endemic Tetratheca paynterae subsp. paynterae. Conservation Genetics 10: 17351746.
Brooks, TM, Mittermeier, RA, Fonseca, GA, Gerlach, J, Hoffmann, M, Lamoreux, JF et al. (2006). Global biodiversity conservation priorities. Science 313: 5861.
Calabrese, JM, Fagan, WF (2004) A comparison-shopper’s guide to connectivity metrics. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2: 529536.
Carmo, FF, Jacobi, CM (2012) Vascular plants on cangas. In: Diversidade Florística nas cangas do Quadrilátero Ferrífero, eds CM Jacobi, FF Carmo, pp. 4347. Belo Horizonte, Brazil: Ed. IDM.
Carmo, FF, Jacobi, CM (2013) A vegetação de canga no Quadrilátero Ferrífero, Minas Gerais: caracterização e contexto fitogeográfico. Rodriguésia 64: 527541.
Carmo, FF, Jacobi, CM (2016) Diversity and plant trait–soil relationships among rock outcrops in the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest. Plant and Soil 403: 720.
Dale, MRT, Fortin, M-J (2010). From graphs to spatial graphs. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 41: 2138.
Doerr, VAJ, Barrett, T, Doerr, ED (2011) Connectivity, dispersal behavior and conservation under climate change: a response to Hodgson et al. Journal of Applied Ecology 48: 143147.
Dorr, JVN II (1969) Physiographic, Stratigraphic and Structural Development of Quadrilátero Ferrífero. Minas Gerais, Brazil: USGS.
Durigan, G, Engel, VL, Torezan, JM, Melo, ACGD, Marques, MCM, Martins, SV & Scarano, FR (2010) Legal rules for ecological restoration: an additional barrier to hinder the success of initiatives? Revista Árvore 34: 471485.
Franceschinelli, EV, Jacobi, CM, Drummond, MG, Resende, MFS (2006) The genetic diversity of two Brazilian Vellozia (Velloziaceae) with different patterns of spatial distribution and pollination biology. Annals of Botany 97: 585592.
Frankham, R, Ballou, JD, Briscoe, DA (2004) A Primer of Conservation Genetics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Gibson, N, Yates, CJ, Dillon, R (2010) Plant communities of the ironstone ranges of south western Australia: hotspots for plant diversity and mineral deposits. Biodiversity and Conservation 19: 39513962.
Gibson, N, Meissner, R, Markey, AS, Thompson, WA (2012) Patterns of plant diversity in ironstone ranges in arid south western Australia. Journal of Arid Environments 77: 2531.
Gibson, N, Coates, D, van Leeuwen, S, Yates, C (2015) Hot, dry and ancient: banded iron formations of western Australia. Geossistemas Ferruginosos do Brasil: Áreas Prioritárias para Conservação da Diversidade Geológica e Biológica, Patrimônio Cultural e Serviços Ambientais, eds FF Carmo, LH Kamino, pp. 2346. Belo Horizonte, Brazil: 3i.
Giulietti, AM, Rapini, A, Andrade, MJG, Queiroz, LP, Silva, JMC (2009) Plantas Raras do Brasil. Belo Horizonte, Brazil: Conservation International.
Helm, A, Hanski, I, Pärtel, M (2006) Slow response of plant species richness to habitat loss and fragmentation. Ecology Letters 9: 7277.
Hodgson, JA, Moilanen, A, Wintle, BA, Thomas, CD (2011) Habitat area, quality and connectivity: striking the balance for efficient conservation. Journal of Applied Ecology 48: 148152.
Hodgson, JA, Thomas, CD, Wintle, BA, Moilanen, A (2009) Climate change, connectivity and conservation decision making: back to basics. Journal of Applied Ecology 46: 964969.
Hopper, SD (2009) OCBIL theory: towards an integrated understanding of the evolution, ecology and conservation of biodiversity on old, climatically buffered, infertile landscapes. Plant and Soil 322: 4986.
Hughes, M, Möller, M, Edwards, TJ, Bellstedt, DU, Villiers, M (2007). The impact of pollination syndrome and habitat on gene flow: a comparative study of two Streptocarpus (Gesneriaceae) species. American Journal of Botany 94: 16881695.
IBRAM (2015) Minério de Ferro. In: Informações Sobre Economia Mineral Brasileira, eds CP Rodrigues, ER Costa, pp. 2225. Brasília, Brazil: Instituto Brasileiro de Mineração.
IUCN (2012) Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. Second edition, pp. 1618. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Jacobi, CM, Carmo, FF (2008) The contribution of ironstone outcrops to plant diversity in the Iron Quadrangle, a threatened Brazilian landscape. Ambio 37: 324326.
Jacobi, CM, Carmo, FF (2011) Life-forms, pollination and seed dispersal syndromes in plant communities on ironstone outcrops, SE Brazil. Acta Botanica Brasilica 25: 395412.
Jacobi, CM, Carmo, FF, Campos, IC (2011) Soaring extinction threats to endemic plants in Brazilian metal-rich regions. Ambio 40: 540543.
Jacobi, CM, Carmo, FF, Campos, IC (2015) Iron geosystems: priority areas for conservation in Brazil. In: Mining in Ecologically Sensitive Landscapes, ed. M Tibbett. Boca Raton, FL, USA: CRC Press.
Jacobi, CM, Carmo, FF, Vincent, RC, Stehmann, JR (2007) Plant communities on ironstone outcrops – a diverse and endangered Brazilian ecosystem. Biodiversity and Conservation 16: 21852200.
Johst, K, Dreschsler, M, Van Teefelen, AJA, Hartig, F, Vos, CC, Wissel, S et al. (2011) Biodiversity conservation in dynamic landscapes: trade-offs between number, connectivity and turnover of habitat patches. Journal of Applied Ecology 48: 12271235.
Joppa, LN, Roberts, DL, Myers, N, Pimm, SL (2011) Biodiversity hotspots house most undiscovered plant species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 32: 1317113176.
Kruckeberg, AR (2002) Geology and Plant Life: The Effects of Landforms and Rock Types on Plants. Seattle, WA, USA: University of Washington Press.
Lavor, P, Van Den Berg, C, Jacobi, CM, Carmo, FF, Versieux, LM (2014) Population genetics of the endemic and endangered Vriesea minarum (Bromeliaceae) in the Iron Quadrangle, Espinhaço Range, Brazil. American Journal of Botany 101: 11671175.
Lobato, LM, Baltazar, OF, Reis, LB, Achtschin, AB, Baars, FJ, Timbó, MA et al. (2005) Projeto Geologia do Quadrilátero Ferrífero – Integração e Correção Cartográfica em SIG com Nota Explicativa. Belo Horizonte, Brazil: CODEMIG.
Machado, N, Noce, CM, Ladeira, EA, Belo de Oliveira, O, Carneiro, MA (1992) U-Pb geochronology of Archean magmatism and Proterozoic metamorphism in the Quadrilátero Ferrífero, Southern São Francisco Craton, Brazil. Geological Society of America Bulletin 104: 12211227.
Machado, IF, Figueirôa, SFM (2001) 500 years of mining in Brazil: a brief review. Resources Policy 27: 924.
Malanson, GP (2008) Extinction debt: origins, developments, and applications of a biogeographical trope. Progress in Physical Geography 32: 277291.
Martinelli, G (2007) Mountain biodiversity in Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Botânica 30: 587597.
Messias, MCTB, Leite, MGP, Meira-Neto, JAA, Kozovits, AR (2012) Fitossociologia de campos rupestres quartzíticos e ferruginosos no Quadrilátero Ferrífero, Minas Gerais. Acta Botanica Brasilica 26: 230242.
Mittermeier, RA, Gil, PR, Hoffman, M, Pilgrim, J, Brooks, T, Mittermeier, CG et al. (2005) Hotspots Revisited: Earth’s Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Terrestrial Ecoregions. Washington, DC, USA: Conservation International.
Monteiro, H, Vasconcelos, P, Farley, K, Spier, C, Mello, C (2014) (U–Th)/He geochronology of goethite and the origin and evolution of cangas. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 131: 267289.
Myers, N, Mittermeier, RA, Mittermeier, CG, Fonseca, GAB, Kent, J (2000) Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403: 853858.
Pascual-Hortal, L, Saura, S (2006) Comparison and development of new graph-based landscape connectivity indices: towards the prioritization of habitat patches and corridors for conservation. Landscape Ecology 21: 959967.
Piqueray, J, Bisteau, E, Cristofoli, S, Palm, R, Poschlod, P, Mahy, G (2011) Plant species extinction debt in a temperate biodiversity hotspot: community, species and functional traits approaches. Biological Conservation 144: 16191629.
Poot, P, Hopper, SD, Van Diggelen, JMH (2012) Exploring rock fissures: does a specialized root morphology explain endemism on granite outcrops? Annals of Botany 110: 290300.
Rayfield, B, Fortin, MJ, Fall, A (2011) Connectivity for conservation: a framework to classify network measures. Ecology 92: 847858.
Rubio, L, Saura, S (2012) Assessing the importance of individual habitat patches as irreplaceable connecting elements: an analysis of simulated and real landscape data. Ecological Complexity 11: 2837.
Rubio, L, Bodin, O, Brotons, L, Saura, S (2015) Connectivity conservation priorities for individual patches evaluated in the present landscape: how durable and effective are they in the long term? Ecography 38: 782791.
Saar, L, Takkis, K, Pärtel, M, Helm, A (2012) Which plant traits predict species loss in calcareous grasslands with extinction debt? Diversity and Distributions 18: 808817.
Salgado, AAR, Carmo, FF (2015) Quadrilátero Ferrífero: a beautiful and neglected landscape between the gold and iron ore reservoirs. In: World Geomorphological Landscapes, pp. 319330. New York, NY, USA: Springer.
Saura, S, Pascual-Hortal, L (2007) A new habitat availability index to integrate connectivity in landscape conservation planning: comparison with existing indices and application to a case study. Landscape Urban Planning 83: 91103.
Saura, S, Rubio, L (2010) A common currency for the different ways in which patches and links can contribute to habitat availability and connectivity in the landscape. Ecography 33: 523537.
Saura, S, Torné, J (2009) Conefor Sensinode 2.2: a software package for quantifying the importance of habitat patches for landscape connectivity. Environmental Modelling Software 24: 135139.
Sonter, LJ, Barrett, DJ, Soares-Filho, BS, Moran, CJ (2014a). Global demand for steel drives extensive land-use change in Brazil’s Iron Quadrangle. Global Environmental Change 26: 6372.
Sonter, LJ, Moran, CJ, Barrett, DJ, Soares-Filho, BS (2014b) Processes of land use change in mining regions. Journal of Cleaner Production 84: 494501.
Spier, CA, Barros, SM, Rosière, CA (2003) Geology and geochemistry of the Águas Claras and Pico Iron Mines, Quadrilátero Ferrífero, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Mineralium Deposita 38: 751774.
Strahler, AH (1978) Binary discriminant analysis: a new method for investigating species-environment relationships. Ecology 59: 108116.
Tilman, D, May, RM, Lehman, CL, Nowak, MA (1994) Habitat destruction and the extinction debt. Nature 371: 6566.
Tischendorf, L, Fahrig, L (2000) How should we measure landscape connectivity? Landscape Ecology 15: 633641.
Viana, PL, Lombardi, JA (2007) Florística e caracterização dos campos rupestres sobre canga na Serra da Calçada, Minas Gerais, Brasil. Rodriguésia 58: 159177.
Wiens, J (2006) Introduction: connectivity research – what are the issues? In: Connectivity Conservation, eds KR Crooks, M Sanjayan, pp. 2328. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Salles et al. supplementary material
Table S1

 Word (34 KB)
34 KB

Habitat Loss Challenges the Conservation of Endemic Plants in Mining-Targeted Brazilian Mountains

  • Debora M Salles (a1), Flávio F do Carmo (a2) and Claudia M Jacobi (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed