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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