Edge effects and beta diversity in ground and canopy beetle communities of fragmented subtropical forest.
ABSTRACT: 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:OBJECTIVE:The finer scale patterns of arthropod vertical stratification in forests are rarely studied and poorly understood. Further, there are no studies investigating whether and how altitude affects arthropod vertical stratification in temperate forests. We therefore investigated the fine-scale vertical stratification of diversity and guild structure of saproxylic beetles in temperate lowland and montane forests and compared the resulting patterns between the two habitats. METHODS:The beetles were sampled with flight intercept traps arranged into vertical transects (sampling heights 0.4, 1.2, 7, 14, and 21 m). A triplet of such transects was installed in each of the five sites in the lowland and in the mountains; 75 traps were used in each forest type. RESULTS:381 species were collected in the lowlands and 236 species in the mountains. Only 105 species (21%) were found at both habitats; in the montane forest as well as in the lowlands, the species richness peaked at 1.2 m, and the change in assemblage composition was most rapid near the ground. The assemblages clearly differed between the understorey (0.4 m, 1.2 m) and the canopy (7 m, 14 m, 21 m) and between the two sampling heights within the understorey, but less within the canopy. The stratification was better pronounced in the lowland, where canopy assemblages were richer than those near the forest floor (0.4 m). In the mountains the samples from 14 and 21 m were more species poor than those from the lower heights. The guild structure was similar in both habitats. CONCLUSIONS:The main patterns of vertical stratification and guild composition were strikingly similar between the montane and the lowland forest despite the low overlap of their faunas. The assemblages of saproxylic beetles were most stratified near ground. The comparisons of species richness between canopy and understorey may thus give contrasting results depending on the exact sampling height in the understorey.
Project description:Cerambycidae) have been used to identify sites of high biological diversity and conservation value in cultivated landscapes, but were rarely studied in changing landscapes of humid tropics. This study was conducted in a region of southern Yunnan, China, which was dominated by natural rainforest until 30 years ago, but is successively transformed into commercial rubber monoculture plantations since that time. The objectives were to investigate longhorn beetle species diversity and distribution in the major land use types of this landscape and to estimate the effects of an expected expansion of rubber plantations on the longhorn beetle assemblages. The results showed that tree species diversity (181 species in total) and longhorn beetle diversity (220 species in total) were closely related with no significant differences between the tree and longhorn beetles assemblages shown by similarity distance analysis. There was a highly positive relationship between the estimated species richness of longhorn beetles and the number of tree species. Individual numbers of longhorn beetles and trees were also highly positive related at the sampling sites. Non-metric multidimensional scaling revealed that the degree of canopy coverage, succession age and tree diversity explained 78.5% of the total variation in longhorn beetle assemblage composition. Natural forest sites had significantly higher numbers of species and individuals than any other type of habitat. Although young rubber plantations bear the highest longhorn beetle diversity outside forests (half of the total number of longhorn beetle species recorded in total), they can not provide permanent habitats for most of these species, because they develop into closed canopy plantations with less suitable habitat conditions. Therefore, along with an expected expansion of rubber cultivation which largely proceeds at the expense of forest areas, the habitat conditions for longhorn beetles in this region might decrease dramatically in future.
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:Dung beetles provide crucial ecosystem services and serve as model organisms for various behavioural, ecological and evolutionary studies. However, dung beetles have received little attention as consumers of large cadavers. In this study, we trapped copronecrophagous dung beetles on above-ground exposed piglet cadavers in 61 forest plots distributed over three geographically distinct regions in Germany, Central Europe. We examined the effects of land use intensity, forest stand, soil characteristics, vascular plant diversity and climatic conditions on dung beetle abundance, species richness and diversity. In all three regions, dung beetles, represented mainly by the geotrupid species Anoplotrupes stercorosus and Trypocopris vernalis, were attracted to the cadavers. High beetle abundance was associated with higher mean ambient temperature. Furthermore, A. stercorosus and T. vernalis were more abundant in areas where soil contained higher proportions of fine sand. Additionally, an increased proportion of forest understorey vegetation and vascular plant diversity positively affected the species richness and diversity of dung beetles. Thus, even in warm dry monocultured forest stands exploited for timber, we found thriving dung beetle populations when a diverse understorey was present. Therefore, forestry practices that preserve the understorey can sustain stable dung beetle populations and ensure their important contribution to nutrient cycles.
Project description:The development in recent years of new beta diversity analytical approaches highlighted valuable information on the different processes structuring ecological communities. A crucial development for the understanding of beta diversity patterns was also its differentiation in two components: species turnover and richness differences. In this study, we evaluate beta diversity patterns of ground beetles from 26 sites in Madeira Island distributed throughout Laurisilva--a relict forest restricted to the Macaronesian archipelagos. We assess how the two components of ground beetle beta diversity (?(repl)--species turnover and ?(rich)--species richness differences) relate with differences in climate, geography, landscape composition matrix, woody plant species richness and soil characteristics and the relative importance of the effects of these variables at different spatial scales. We sampled 1025 specimens from 31 species, most of which are endemic to Madeira Island. A spatially explicit analysis was used to evaluate the contribution of pure environmental, pure spatial and environmental spatially structured effects on variation in ground beetle species richness and composition. Variation partitioning showed that 31.9% of species turnover (?(repl)) and 40.7% of species richness variation (?(rich)) could be explained by the environmental and spatial variables. However, different environmental variables controlled the two types of beta diversity: ?(repl) was influenced by climate, disturbance and soil organic matter content whilst ?(rich) was controlled by altitude and slope. Furthermore, spatial variables, represented through Moran's eigenvector maps, played a significant role in explaining both ?(repl) and ?(rich), suggesting that both dispersal ability and Madeira Island complex orography are crucial for the understanding of beta diversity patterns in this group of beetles.
Project description:Understanding complex, dynamic, and diverse ecosystems is essential for developing sound management and conservation strategies. Gravel-bed river floodplains are composed of an interlinked mosaic of aquatic and terrestrial habitats hosting a diverse, specialized, and endangered fauna. Therefore, they serve as excellent models to investigate the biodiversity of multiple ecotones and related edge effects. In this study, we investigated the abundance, composition, richness, and conservation status of beetle assemblages at varying sediment depth (0, 0.1, 0.6 and 1.1 m), distance from the channel (1, 5, 20, and 60-100 m, and 5 m within the riparian forest), and time of the year (February-November) across a 200 m-wide gravel bar at the near-natural Tagliamento River (Italy), to detect edge effects in four floodplain ecotones: aquatic-terrestrial, forest-active floodplain, sediment-air, and sediment-groundwater. We used conventional pitfall traps and novel tube traps to sample beetles comparably on the sediment surface and within the unsaturated sediments. We found a total of 308 beetle species (including 87 of conservation concern) that showed multiple, significant positive edge effects across the floodplain ecotones, mainly driven by spatial heterogeneity: Total and red list beetle abundance and richness peaked on the sediment surface, at channel margins, and at the edge of the riparian forest. All ecotones possessed edge/habitat specialists. Most red list species occurred on the sediment surface, including five species previously considered extinct--yet two of these species occurred in higher densities in the unsaturated sediments. Conservation and management efforts along gravel-bed rivers must therefore promote a dynamic flow and sediment regime to create and maintain habitat heterogeneity and ecotone diversity, which support a unique and high biodiversity.
Project description:Edge effects are ubiquitous landscape processes influencing over 70% of forest cover worldwide. However, little is known about how edge effects influence the vertical stratification of communities in forest fragments. We combined a spatially implicit and a spatially explicit approach to quantify the magnitude and extent of edge effects on canopy and understorey epiphytic plants in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Within the human-modified landscape, species richness, species abundance and community composition remained practically unchanged along the interior-edge gradient, pointing to severe biotic homogenisation at all strata. This is because the extent of edge effects reached at least 500 m, potentially leaving just 0.24% of the studied landscape unaffected by edges. We extrapolated our findings to the entire Atlantic Forest and found that just 19.4% of the total existing area is likely unaffected by edge effects and provide suitable habitat conditions for forest-dependent epiphytes. Our results suggest that the resources provided by the current forest cover might be insufficient to support the future of epiphyte communities. Preserving large continuous 'intact' forests is probably the only effective conservation strategy for vascular epiphytes.