Arthropod traits and assemblages differ between core patches, transient stepping-stones and landscape corridors

Scott Pedley, Paul Dolman

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Abstract

Context: Restoring landscape connectivity can mitigate fragmentation and improve population resilience, but functional equivalence of contrasting elements is poorly understood. Evaluating biodiversity outcomes requires examining assemblage-responses across contrasting taxa. 
Objectives: We compared arthropod species and trait composition between contrasting open-habitat network elements: core patches, corridors (allowing individual dispersal and population percolation), and transient stepping-stones (potentially enhancing meta-population dynamics). 
Methods: Carabids and spiders were sampled from core patches of grass-heath habitat (n=24 locations across eight sites), corridors (trackways, n=15) and recently-replanted clear-fells (transient patches, n=19) set in a forest matrix impermeable to open-habitat arthropods. Species and trait (habitat association, diet, body size, dispersal ability) composition were compared by ordination and fourth corner analyses. 
Results: Each network element supported distinct arthropod assemblages with differing functional trait composition. Core patches were dominated by specialist dry-open habitat species while generalist and woodland species contributed to assemblages in connectivity elements. Nevertheless, transient patches (and to a lesser degree, corridors) supported dry-open species characteristic of the focal grass-heath sites. Trait associations differed markedly among the three elements. Dispersal mechanisms and their correlates differed between taxa, but dry-open species in transient patches were characterised by traits favouring dispersal (large running hunter spiders and large, winged, herbivorous carabids), in contrast to wingless carabids in corridors.
Conclusions: Core patches, dispersal corridors and transient stepping-stones are not functionally interchangeable within this system. Semi-natural core patches supported a filtered subset of the regional fauna. Evidence for enhanced connectivity through percolation (corridors) or meta-population dynamics (stepping stones) differed between the two taxa.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)937–952
Number of pages16
JournalLandscape Ecology
Volume35
Issue number4
Early online date18 Mar 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

Keywords

  • CARABID BEETLE
  • Dispersal corridors
  • ECOLOGICAL NETWORKS
  • ENVIRONMENTAL-CHANGE
  • Ecological network
  • FUNCTIONAL-RESPONSES
  • GROUND BEETLES COLEOPTERA
  • HABITAT FRAGMENTATION
  • LIFE-HISTORY TRAITS
  • Landscape connectivity
  • Movement corridors
  • Open-habitat network
  • PLANTATION FOREST
  • POPULATION-DENSITIES
  • SPECIES TRAITS

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