Patch occupancy of grassland specialists: Habitat quality matters more than habitat connectivity

Autor(en): Poniatowski, Dominik
Stuhldreher, Gregor
Loeffler, Franz
Fartmann, Thomas 
Stichwörter: ASSEMBLAGES; Biodiversity & Conservation; Biodiversity Conservation; BUTTERFLIES; Calcareous grassland; CALCAREOUS GRASSLANDS; CLIMATE; CONSERVATION; Ecology; Environmental Sciences; Environmental Sciences & Ecology; Fragmented landscape; Functional connectivity; Habitat specialist; LANDSCAPE; MANAGEMENT; METAPOPULATION DYNAMICS; Multi-taxon approach; PLANT; POPULATION; Variation partitioning
Erscheinungsdatum: 2018
Volumen: 225
Startseite: 237
Seitenende: 244
Land-use change has caused degradation, loss and fragmentation of semi-natural habitats, especially in grassland ecosystems. Today, the remaining habitats are often situated in a matrix of intensively used agricultural land and are therefore more or less isolated from each other. Connectivity, area and quality of habitat patches have been identified as the most important drivers for the persistence of grassland specialists living in metapopulations. However, the relative importance of these factors is still under debate. We used a large-scale, multi-taxon approach to obtain a general pattern which would facilitate conservationists to promote many, instead of one, species. We studied the patch occupancy of 13 grassland specialists belonging to three different insect orders within a Central European landscape with 89 fragments of calcareous grasslands. To disentangle the relative importance of the three metapopulation parameters, generalized linear models (GLM) and variation-partitioning techniques were used. Our study revealed that habitat quality was the most important factor determining the occurrence of specialized species, followed by habitat area. In comparison to habitat connectivity, the variance explained by habitat quality was significantly higher across the studied species. Nevertheless, the persistence of at least six model organisms depended on the degree of habitat connectivity. We conclude that maintaining a high habitat quality on large patches should be the first choice for the conservation of habitat specialist insects in fragmented landscapes. As a secondary measure, conservationists should concentrate on the restoration of relict sites. This increases not only the habitat area, but also contributes to better habitat connectivity.
ISSN: 00063207
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.07.018

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