Forest edges have high conservation value for bird communities in mosaic landscapes.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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: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: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:As major disturbance agents, natural catastrophes impact habitats, thereby maintaining the dynamics of ecological communities. Such discrete events are expected to positively affect biodiversity because they generate high habitat heterogeneity and thus numerous ecological niche opportunities. Species typical of open and semi-open habitats, which are often of high conservation concern in modern anthropized landscapes, may benefit most from recurrent natural catastrophes that regularly reset ecosystems. We investigated bird community changes and species-specific responses to wildfire at two recently burnt temperate, montane-subalpine forest stands in an inner-Alpine Swiss valley, with a special focus on red-listed and conservation priority species. We compared bird community changes in burnt forests (spanning 13 years) with bird assemblages occurring in adjacent non-burned forest stands that served as quasi-experimental controls. Strong species-specific responses to wildfire were evidenced, resulting in a dramatic post-fire decrease in overall bird abundance and species richness. Yet, red-listed bird species and conservation priority species in Switzerland were substantially more common in burnt than in control forest stands. Many red-listed species showed a bell-shaped numeric response to wildfire over time, suggesting low habitat suitability just after fire, high habitat suitability at pioneer and early stages of vegetation succession, followed by a long-term decrease in suitability while vegetation becomes denser, especially at ground level. As established for Mediterranean regions where wildfires are especially frequent, this study shows that forest fires can also boost the populations of red-listed and priority bird species typical of open and semi-open habitats in temperate biomes. Prescribed forest fire might represent a management option for preserving threatened elements of biodiversity despite the intense public debate it will trigger.
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:Habitat loss is the main driver of the current biodiversity crisis, a landscape-scale process that affects the survival of spatially-structured populations. Although it is well-established that species responses to habitat loss can be abrupt, the existence of a biodiversity threshold is still the cause of much controversy in the literature and would require that most species respond similarly to the loss of native vegetation. Here we test the existence of a biodiversity threshold, i.e. an abrupt decline in species richness, with habitat loss. We draw on a spatially-replicated dataset on Atlantic forest small mammals, consisting of 16 sampling sites divided between forests and matrix habitats in each of five 3600-ha landscapes (varying from 5% to 45% forest cover), and on an a priori classification of species into habitat requirement categories (forest specialists, habitat generalists and open-area specialists). Forest specialists declined abruptly below 30% of forest cover, and spillover to the matrix occurred only in more forested landscapes. Generalists responded positively to landscape heterogeneity, peaking at intermediary levels of forest cover. Open area specialists dominated the matrix and did not spillover to forests. As a result of these distinct responses, we observed a biodiversity threshold for the small mammal community below 30% forest cover, and a peak in species richness just above this threshold. Our results highlight that cross habitat spillover may be asymmetrical and contingent on landscape context, occurring mainly from forests to the matrix and only in more forested landscapes. Moreover, they indicate the potential for biodiversity thresholds in human-modified landscapes, and the importance of landscape heterogeneity to biodiversity. Since forest loss affected not only the conservation value of forest patches, but also the potential for biodiversity-mediated services in anthropogenic habitats, our work indicates the importance of proactive measures to avoid human-modified landscapes to cross this threshold.
Project description:We studied the distribution of millipedes in a forest interior-forest edge-grassland habitat complex in the Hajdúság Landscape Protection Area (NE Hungary). The habitat types were as follows: (1) lowland oak forest, (2) forest edge with increased ground vegetation and shrub cover, and (3) mesophilous grassland. We collected millipedes by litter and soil sifting. There were overall 30 sifted litter and soil samples: 3 habitat types × 2 replicates × 5 soil and litter samples per habitats. We collected 9 millipede species; the most abundant species was Glomeristetrasticha, which was the most abundant species in the forest edge as well. The most abundant species in the forest interior was Kryphioiulusoccultus, while the most abundant species in the grassland was Megaphyllumunilineatum. Our result showed that the number of millipede species was significantly lower in the grassland than in the forest or in the edge, however there were no significant difference in the number of species between the forest interior and the forest edge. We found significantly the highest number of millipede individuals in the forest edge. There were differences in the composition of the millipede assemblages of the three habitats. The results of the DCCA showed that forest edge and forest interior habitats were clearly separated from the grassland habitats. The forest edge habitat was characterized by high air temperature, high soil moisture, high soil pH, high soil enzyme activity, high shrub cover and low canopy cover. The IndVal and the DCCA methods revealed the following character species of the forest edge habitats: Glomeristetrasticha and Leptoiuluscibdellus. Changes in millipede abundance and composition were highly correlated with the vegetation structure.
Project description:Understanding factors determining the distribution of species is a key requirement for protecting diversity in a specific area. The aim of this study was to explore the factors affecting diversity and distribution of species of birds on different forested hills in central Nepal. The area is rich in species of birds. Because the area is characterized by steep gradients, we were also interested in the importance of altitude in determining the diversity and species composition of the bird communities. We assessed bird diversity and species composition based on point observations along a gradient of increasing altitude in two valleys (Kathmandu and Palung) in central Nepal. Data on environmental variables were also collected in order to identify the main determinants of bird diversity and species composition of the bird communities. We recorded 6522 individual birds belonging to 146 species, 77 genera and 23 families. Resident birds made up 80% (117 species) of the total dataset. The study supported the original expectation that altitude is a major determinant of species richness and composition of bird communities in the area. More diverse bird communities were found also in areas with steeper slopes. This together with the positive effect of greater heterogeneity suggests that forests on steep slopes intermixed with patches of open habitats on shallow soil at large spatial scales are more important for diverse bird communities than more disturbed habitats on shallow slopes. In addition, we demonstrated that while different habitat characteristics such as presence of forests edges and shrubs play an important role in driving species composition, but they do not affect species richness. This indicates that while habitat conditions are important determinants of the distribution of specific species, the number of niches is determined by large scale characteristics, such as landscape level habitat heterogeneity and altitude. Thus, to protect bird diversity in the mid-hills of central Nepal, we should maintain diverse local habitats (viz. forest, shrubs, open land, etc.) but also make sure the natural habitats on steeper slopes with large scale heterogeneity are maintained.