Butterfly diversity at the ecotone between agricultural and semi-natural habitats across a climatic gradient

Pe'er, Guy, van Maanen, Catharine, Turbe, Anne, Matsinos, Yiannis G. and Kark, Salit (2011) Butterfly diversity at the ecotone between agricultural and semi-natural habitats across a climatic gradient. Diversity and Distributions, 17 6: 1186-1197. doi:10.1111/j.1472-4642.2011.00795.x


Author Pe'er, Guy
van Maanen, Catharine
Turbe, Anne
Matsinos, Yiannis G.
Kark, Salit
Title Butterfly diversity at the ecotone between agricultural and semi-natural habitats across a climatic gradient
Journal name Diversity and Distributions   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1366-9516
1472-4642
Publication date 2011-11-01
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2011.00795.x
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 17
Issue 6
Start page 1186
End page 1197
Total pages 12
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Language eng
Abstract Aim Understanding the response of species to ecotones and habitat edges is essential to designing conservation management, especially in mosaic agricultural landscapes. This study examines how species diversity and composition change with distance from semi-natural habitats, over ecotones into agricultural fields, and how within-site patterns of community transition change across a climatic gradient and differ between crop types.
Formatted abstract
Aim  Understanding the response of species to ecotones and habitat edges is essential to designing conservation management, especially in mosaic agricultural landscapes. This study examines how species diversity and composition change with distance from semi-natural habitats, over ecotones into agricultural fields, and how within-site patterns of community transition change across a climatic gradient and differ between crop types.

Location  A total of 19 sites in Israel where semi-natural habitats border agricultural fields (wheat fields or olive groves) distributed along a sharp climatic gradient ranging between 100 and 800 mm mean annual rainfall.

Methods We performed butterfly surveys in 2006. We analysed species richness (α-diversity), diversity, community nestedness and species turnover (β-diversity) within sites and between sites (γ-diversity). We also assessed where species of conservation concern occurred.

Results  In wheat sites, richness and diversity declined abruptly from ecotones to fields and remained homogenously poor throughout the fields, regardless of climate. In olive sites, despite the sharp structural boundary, richness and diversity remained high from the semi-natural habitat to the grove margins and then declined gradually into groves. Species of conservation concern occurred across all habitats at olive sites, but none were found inside wheat fields or at their ecotones. The contrast in community structure between semi-natural habitats and fields was affected by both climate and field type. Irrigation in arid regions did not augment species diversity.

Main conclusions  Our results indicate that consideration of crop type, within a climatic context, should receive high priority in biodiversity conservation in agricultural areas. In ‘hostile’ crops, such as wheat, we suggest favouring a combination of high-intensity management and wide margins over less intensive management without margins, which may merely aid generalist butterfly species. The scarcity of butterflies in arid irrigated fields suggests a need to carefully assess the effects of irrigation and agrochemicals on species’ communities. 
Keyword Agricultural fields
Butterflies
Climate
Conservation management
Diversity
Edge effects
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
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