Pervasive impact of large-scale edge effects on a beetle community.
ABSTRACT: Habitat edges are a ubiquitous feature of modern fragmented landscapes, but a tendency for researchers to restrict sampling designs to relatively small spatial scales means that edge effects are known to influence faunal communities over small spatial scales of only 20-250 m. However, we found striking changes in the abundance and community composition of 769 New Zealand beetle species ( approximately 26,000 individuals) across very long edge gradients. We show that almost 90% of species respond significantly to habitat edges and that the abundances of 20% of common species were affected by edges at scales >250 m. Moreover, as many as one in eight common species had edge effects that appeared to penetrate as far as 1 km into habitat patches. Even 1 km inside forest, beetle communities differed in species richness, beta-diversity (spatial turnover), and composition from the deep forest interior. Spatially explicit models of fragmented landscapes have shown that such large-scale edge effects can lead to an 80% reduction in the population size of interior forest species in even very large fragments. Moreover, such large-scale edge effects can drive species that inhabit central habitat core-which are among the most threatened species in fragmented landscapes-to local extinction from habitat fragments and protected areas. In a global analysis of protected areas, we show that kilometer-scale edge effects may compromise the ability of more than three-quarters of the world's forested reserves to conserve the community biostructures that are unique to forest interiors.
Project description:A major conservation challenge in mosaic landscapes is to understand how trait-specific responses to habitat edges affect bird communities, including potential cascading effects on bird functions providing ecosystem services to forests, such as pest control. Here, we examined how bird species richness, abundance and community composition varied from interior forest habitats and their edges into adjacent open habitats, within a multi-regional sampling scheme. We further analyzed variations in Conservation Value Index (CVI), Community Specialization Index (CSI) and functional traits across the forest-edge-open habitat gradient. Bird species richness, total abundance and CVI were significantly higher at forest edges while CSI peaked at interior open habitats, i.e., furthest from forest edge. In addition, there were important variations in trait- and species-specific responses to forest edges among bird communities. Positive responses to forest edges were found for several forest bird species with unfavorable conservation status. These species were in general insectivores, understorey gleaners, cavity nesters and long-distance migrants, all traits that displayed higher abundance at forest edges than in forest interiors or adjacent open habitats. Furthermore, consistently with predictions, negative edge effects were recorded in some forest specialist birds and in most open-habitat birds, showing increasing densities from edges to interior habitats. We thus suggest that increasing landscape-scale habitat complexity would be beneficial to declining species living in mosaic landscapes combining small woodlands and open habitats. Edge effects between forests and adjacent open habitats may also favor bird functional guilds providing valuable ecosystem services to forests in longstanding fragmented landscapes.
Project description:Biological edge effects are often assessed in high quality focal habitats that are negatively influenced by human-modified low quality matrix habitats. A deeper understanding of the possibilities for positive edge effects in matrix habitats bordering focal habitats (e.g. spillover effects) is, however, essential for enhancing landscape-level resilience to human alterations. We surveyed epixylic (dead wood inhabiting) forest-interior cryptogams (lichens, bryophytes, and fungi) associated with mature old-growth forests in 30 young managed Swedish boreal forest stands bordering a mature forest of high conservation value. In each young stand we registered species occurrences on coarse dead wood in transects 0-50 m from the border between stand types. We quantified the effect of distance from the mature forest on the occurrence of forest-interior species in the young stands, while accounting for local environment and propagule sources. For comparison we also surveyed epixylic open-habitat (associated with open forests) and generalist cryptogams. Species composition of epixylic cryptogams in young stands differed with distance from the mature forest: the frequency of occurrence of forest-interior species decreased with increasing distance whereas it increased for open-habitat species. Generalists were unaffected by distance. Epixylic, boreal forest-interior cryptogams do occur in matrix habitats such as clear-cuts. In addition, they are associated with the matrix edge because of a favourable microclimate closer to the mature forest on southern matrix edges. Retention and creation of dead wood in clear-cuts along the edges to focal habitats is a feasible way to enhance the long-term persistence of epixylic habitat specialists in fragmented landscapes. The proposed management measures should be performed in the whole stand as it matures, since microclimatic edge effects diminish as the matrix habitat matures. We argue that management that aims to increase habitat quality in matrix habitats bordering focal habitats should increase the probability of long-term persistence of habitat specialists.
Project description:Forest edges influence more than half of the world's forests and contribute to worldwide declines in biodiversity and ecosystem functions. However, predicting these declines is challenging in heterogeneous fragmented landscapes. Here we assembled a global dataset on species responses to fragmentation and developed a statistical approach for quantifying edge impacts in heterogeneous landscapes to quantify edge-determined changes in abundance of 1,673 vertebrate species. We show that the abundances of 85% of species are affected, either positively or negatively, by forest edges. Species that live in the centre of the forest (forest core), that were more likely to be listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), reached peak abundances only at sites farther than 200-400?m from sharp high-contrast forest edges. Smaller-bodied amphibians, larger reptiles and medium-sized non-volant mammals experienced a larger reduction in suitable habitat than other forest-core species. Our results highlight the pervasive ability of forest edges to restructure ecological communities on a global scale.
Project description:Clearing of dry forests globally creates edges between remnant forest and open anthropogenic habitats. We used flight intercept traps to evaluate how forest beetle communities are influenced by distance from such edges, together with vertical height, spatial location, and local vegetation structure, in an urbanising region (Brisbane, Australia). Species composition (but not total abundance or richness) differed greatly between ground and canopy. Species composition also varied strongly among sites at both ground and canopy levels, but almost all other significant effects occurred only at ground level, where: species richness declined from edge to interior; composition differed between positions near edges (<10 m) and interiors (> 50 m); high local canopy cover was associated with greater total abundance and richness and differing composition; and greater distances to the city centre were associated with increased total abundances and altered composition. Analyses of individual indicator species associated with this variation enabled further biological interpretations. A global literature synthesis showed that most spatially well-replicated studies of edge effects on ground-level beetles within forest fragments have likewise found that positions within tens of metres from edges with open anthropogenic habitats had increased species richness and different compositions from forest interior sites, with fewer effects on abundance. Accordingly, negative edge effects will not prevent relatively small compact fragments (if >10-20 ha) from supporting forest-like beetle communities, although indirect consequences of habitat degradation remain a threat. Retention of multiple spatially scattered forest areas will also be important in conserving forest-dependent beetles, given high levels of between-site diversity.
Project description:Background:Few studies of edge effects on wildlife objectively identify habitat edges or explore non-linear responses. In this paper, we build on ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) research that has begun to address these domains by using triangulation wombling to identify boundaries in beetle community structure and composition at the edges of forest patches with residential developments. We hypothesized that edges are characterized by boundaries in environmental variables that correspond to marked discontinuities in vegetation structure between maintained yards and forest. We expected environmental boundaries to be associated with beetle boundaries. Methods:We collected beetles and measured environmental variables in 200 m by 200 m sampling grids centered at the edges of three forest patches, each with a rural, suburban, or urban context, in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. We identified boundaries within each grid at two spatial scales and tested their significance and overlap using boundary statistics and overlap statistics, respectively. We complemented boundary delineation with k-means clustering. Results:Boundaries in environmental variables, such as temperature, grass cover, and leaf litter depth, occurred at or near the edges of all three sites, in many cases at both scales. The beetle variables that exhibited the most pronounced boundary structure in relation to edges were total species evenness, generalist abundance, generalist richness, generalist evenness, and Agonum punctiforme abundance. Environmental and beetle boundaries also occurred within forest patches and residential developments, indicating substantial localized spatial variation on either side of edges. Boundaries in beetle and environmental variables that displayed boundary structure at edges significantly overlapped, as did boundaries on either side of edges. The comparison of boundaries and clusters revealed that boundaries formed parts of the borders of patches of similar beetle or environmental condition. Discussion:We show that edge effects on ground beetle community structure and composition and environmental variation at the intersection of forest patches and residential developments can be described by boundaries and that these boundaries overlap in space. However, our results also highlight the complexity of edge effects in our system: environmental boundaries were located at or near edges whereas beetle boundaries related to edges could be spatially disjunct from them; boundaries incompletely delineated edges such that only parts of edges were well-described by sharp transitions in beetle and/or environmental variables; and the occurrence of boundaries related to edges was apparently influenced by individual property management practices, site-specific characteristics such as development geometry, and spatial scale.
Project description:Most edges are anthropogenic in origin, but are distinguishable by their maintaining processes (natural vs. continued anthropogenic interventions: forestry, agriculture, urbanization). We hypothesized that the dissimilar edge histories will be reflected in the diversity and assemblage composition of inhabitants. Testing this "history-based edge effect" hypothesis, we evaluated published information on a common insect group, ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) in forest edges. A meta-analysis showed that the diversity-enhancing properties of edges significantly differed according to their history. Forest edges maintained by natural processes had significantly higher species richness than their interiors, while edges with continued anthropogenic influence did not. The filter function of edges was also essentially different depending on their history. For forest specialist species, edges maintained by natural processes were penetrable, allowing these species to move right through the edges, while edges still under anthropogenic interventions were impenetrable, preventing the dispersal of forest specialists out of the forest. For species inhabiting the surrounding matrix (open-habitat and generalist species), edges created by forestry activities were penetrable, and such species also invaded the forest interior. However, natural forest edges constituted a barrier and prevented the invasion of matrix species into the forest interior. Preserving and protecting all edges maintained by natural processes, and preventing anthropogenic changes to their structure, composition, and characteristics are key factors to sustain biodiversity in forests. Moreover, the increasing presence of anthropogenic edges in a landscape is to be avoided, as they contribute to the loss of biodiversity. Simultaneously, edges under continued anthropogenic disturbance should be restored by increasing habitat heterogeneity.
Project description:Increasing deforestation worldwide has expanded the interfaces between fragmented forests and non-forest habitats. Human-made edges are very different from the original forest cover, with different microclimatic conditions. Conversely, the natural transitions (i.e., ecotones) are distinct from human-made forest edges. The human-made forest edges are usually sharp associated with disturbances, with abrupt changes in temperature, humidity, luminosity and wind incidence towards the forest interior. However, the natural forest-lake ecotones, even when abrupt, are composed of a complex vegetal physiognomy, with canopy structures close to the ground level and a composition of herbaceous and arboreal species well adapted to this transition range. In the present study, fruit-feeding butterflies were used as models to investigate whether faunal assemblages in natural ecotones are more similar to the forest interior than to the anthropic edges. Butterflies were sampled monthly over one year in the Rio Doce State Park, Southeastern Brazil, following a standardized design using a total of 90 bait traps, in three different forest habitats (forest interior, forest ecotone and anthropic edges), in both canopy and understory. A total of 11,594 individuals from 98 butterfly species were collected (3,151 individuals from 79 species in the forest interior, 4,321 individuals from 87 species in the ecotone and 4,122 individuals from 83 species in the edge). The results indicated that the butterfly richness and diversity were higher in transition areas (ecotones and edges). The ecotone included a combination of butterfly species from the forest interior and from anthropic edges. However, species composition and dominance in the ecotone were similar to the forest interior in both vertical strata. These results suggest that human made forest edges are quite distinct from ecotones. Moreover, ecotones represent unique habitats accommodating species adapted to distinct ecological conditions, while anthropic edges accommodate only opportunistic species from open areas or upper canopies.
Project description:Edge effects are major drivers of change in many fragmented landscapes, but are often highly variable in space and time. Here we assess variability in edge effects altering Amazon forest dynamics, plant community composition, invading species, and carbon storage, in the world's largest and longest-running experimental study of habitat fragmentation. Despite detailed knowledge of local landscape conditions, spatial variability in edge effects was only partially foreseeable: relatively predictable effects were caused by the differing proximity of plots to forest edge and varying matrix vegetation, but windstorms generated much random variability. Temporal variability in edge phenomena was also only partially predictable: forest dynamics varied somewhat with fragment age, but also fluctuated markedly over time, evidently because of sporadic droughts and windstorms. Given the acute sensitivity of habitat fragments to local landscape and weather dynamics, we predict that fragments within the same landscape will tend to converge in species composition, whereas those in different landscapes will diverge in composition. This 'landscape-divergence hypothesis', if generally valid, will have key implications for biodiversity-conservation strategies and for understanding the dynamics of fragmented ecosystems.
Project description:Fragmentation changes the spatial patterns of landscapes in ways that can alter the flow of materials and species; however, our understanding of the consequences of this fragmentation and flow alteration for ecosystem processes and ecosystem services remains limited. As an ecological process that affects many ecosystem services and is sensitive to fragmentation, insect herbivory is a good model system for exploring the role of fragmentation, and the resulting spatial patterns of landscapes, in the provision of ecosystem services. To refine our knowledge of how changes in landscape pattern affect insect herbivory, we quantified the combined influence of among patch (patch area and patch connectivity) and within patch (location within patch; canopy, edge, interior) factors on amounts of insect herbivory in a fragmented forest landscape. We measured herbivory in 20 forest patches of differing size and connectivity in southern Quebec (Canada). Within each patch, herbivory was quantified at the interior, edge, and canopy of sugar maple trees during the spring and summer of 2011 and 2012. Results show that connectivity affects herbivory differently depending on the location within the patch (edge, interior, canopy), an effect that would have gone unnoticed if samples were pooled across locations. These results suggest considering structure at both the patch and within patch scales may help to elucidate patterns when studying the effects of fragmentation on ecosystem processes, with implications for the services they support.
Project description:Habitat fragmentation has become one of the major threats to biodiversity worldwide, particularly in the case of forests, which have suffered enormous losses during the past decades. We analyzed how changes in patch configuration and habitat quality derived from the fragmentation of austral temperate rainforests affect the distribution of six species of forest-dwelling climbing and epiphytic angiosperms. Epiphyte and vine abundance is primarily affected by the internal characteristics of patches (such as tree size, the presence of logging gaps or the proximity to patch edges) rather than patch and landscape features (such as patch size, shape or connectivity). These responses were intimately related to species-specific characteristics such as drought- or shade-tolerance. Our study therefore suggests that plant responses to fragmentation are contingent on both the species' ecology and the specific pathways through which the study area is being fragmented, (i.e. extensive logging that shaped the boundaries of current forest patches plus recent, unregulated logging that creates gaps within patches). Management practices in fragmented landscapes should therefore consider habitat quality within patches together with other spatial attributes at landscape or patch scales.