Historically, where forest habitats are deemed as the pristine landscape state, anthropogenic habitats such as managed grasslands or open spaces are often perceived to be antagonistic and of secondary conservation priority. Traditionally, studies on biodiversity responses to ecological variation, i.e. edge effect, have mostly focused on forest habitats. Yet recently there has been increased attention on communities beyond the forest edge in an effort to better understand how interactions between forests and adjacent habitats may potentially affect regional biodiversity. However, in Europe and the Mediterranean basin (a biodiversity hotspot), areas with high landscape heterogeneity and high edge density, there is a paucity of studies analysing the community responses across forest and “beyond edge” habitats across ecotones. In a protected area of central Italy, we investigated the responses of ground-dwelling arthropods [Araneae (spiders), Chilopoda (centipedes) and Carabidae (ground beetles)], which were differentiated into habitat-specific guilds (forest, edge and grassland species) across a forest–grassland ecotone. We investigated the extent to which a habitat edge influenced communities of arthropods associated with either the forest or grassland, and how far from the edge this effect penetrated into each habitat. Twelve 150 m-transects perpendicular to a forest–grassland edge were established and arthropods were sampled at nine progressive distances across the ecotone. An indicator species analysis was used to detect species significantly associated with forest, edge-belt or grassland habitats, which were assumed representative of the respective communities. Logistic models of indicator species richness and abundances were used to describe responses of grassland and forest communities across the ecological boundaries. We found that grassland and edge habitats had habitat specialists and higher species richness compared to the forest habitat. Moreover, the occurrence of grassland-specific species was influenced by the presence of an edge up to 15 m from the habitat border. In contrast forest-associated indicator species were not affected by proximity to the habitat edge, rather individuals typical of forest habitats tended to “spill over” into grassland habitats. These findings support the hypothesis that in a forest–grassland mosaic, forest species are less sensitive to an edge and influence the community beyond the forest edge and into the grassland more than the reverse, i.e. the effect was asymmetric. From these data, we estimated that a minimum grassland habitat width of 600 m is necessary for grassland species to maintain a core area that is relatively unaffected by the spillover of species from adjacent forest habitats. Incorporating the directional influences of adjacent communities on each other allows for an empirical assessment of habitat vulnerability that doesn’t a priori value the conservation of one habitat over another.

Asymmetrical responses of forest and “beyond edge” arthropod communities across a forest–grassland ecotone / F. Lacasella, C. Gratton, S. De Felici, M. Isaia, M. Zapparoli, S. Marta, V. Sbordoni. - In: BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION. - ISSN 0960-3115. - 24:3(2015), pp. 447-465. [10.1007/s10531-014-0825-0]

Asymmetrical responses of forest and “beyond edge” arthropod communities across a forest–grassland ecotone

S. Marta
Penultimo
;
2015

Abstract

Historically, where forest habitats are deemed as the pristine landscape state, anthropogenic habitats such as managed grasslands or open spaces are often perceived to be antagonistic and of secondary conservation priority. Traditionally, studies on biodiversity responses to ecological variation, i.e. edge effect, have mostly focused on forest habitats. Yet recently there has been increased attention on communities beyond the forest edge in an effort to better understand how interactions between forests and adjacent habitats may potentially affect regional biodiversity. However, in Europe and the Mediterranean basin (a biodiversity hotspot), areas with high landscape heterogeneity and high edge density, there is a paucity of studies analysing the community responses across forest and “beyond edge” habitats across ecotones. In a protected area of central Italy, we investigated the responses of ground-dwelling arthropods [Araneae (spiders), Chilopoda (centipedes) and Carabidae (ground beetles)], which were differentiated into habitat-specific guilds (forest, edge and grassland species) across a forest–grassland ecotone. We investigated the extent to which a habitat edge influenced communities of arthropods associated with either the forest or grassland, and how far from the edge this effect penetrated into each habitat. Twelve 150 m-transects perpendicular to a forest–grassland edge were established and arthropods were sampled at nine progressive distances across the ecotone. An indicator species analysis was used to detect species significantly associated with forest, edge-belt or grassland habitats, which were assumed representative of the respective communities. Logistic models of indicator species richness and abundances were used to describe responses of grassland and forest communities across the ecological boundaries. We found that grassland and edge habitats had habitat specialists and higher species richness compared to the forest habitat. Moreover, the occurrence of grassland-specific species was influenced by the presence of an edge up to 15 m from the habitat border. In contrast forest-associated indicator species were not affected by proximity to the habitat edge, rather individuals typical of forest habitats tended to “spill over” into grassland habitats. These findings support the hypothesis that in a forest–grassland mosaic, forest species are less sensitive to an edge and influence the community beyond the forest edge and into the grassland more than the reverse, i.e. the effect was asymmetric. From these data, we estimated that a minimum grassland habitat width of 600 m is necessary for grassland species to maintain a core area that is relatively unaffected by the spillover of species from adjacent forest habitats. Incorporating the directional influences of adjacent communities on each other allows for an empirical assessment of habitat vulnerability that doesn’t a priori value the conservation of one habitat over another.
Arthropod community; Complex landscapes; Edge effect; Forest–grassland ecotone; Indicator species; Open habitat
Settore BIO/05 - Zoologia
Settore BIO/07 - Ecologia
2015
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/954467
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