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Habitat complementary supports pollinators and frugivores in agricultural landscapes
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7219-4359
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Context: Homogenization of land uses causes a decline in biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. The species composition of plants in small remnant habitats may overlap to some extent with species composition in decreasing species-rich key habitats, e.g. semi-natural grasslands, and therefore buffer the decline of species in intensively managed landscapes. Since plant species composition determines many ecosystem functions, small remnant habitats may provide essential contributions to ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes where semi-natural grasslands are rare.

Questions: To what extent does the plant community in forest edges and on midfield islets (remnant habitats of grasslands) overlap in composition with the plant species composition in semi-natural grasslands?

How important are these two types of remnant habitats for harboring plant communities utilized by a diversity of pollinators and frugivores, and does this importance vary during the growing season? And finally, does surrounding landscape type (agricultural intensity) or local environment (canopy openness) affect the function of the plant community characteristic’s associated with attracting frugivorous and pollinators?

Methods: We sampled plants, including trees and shrubs, and in 13 semi-natural grasslands, 50 forest edges and 132 midfield islets in agricultural landscapes in south-eastern Sweden. We investigated distribution and richness of plant traits (fleshy vs. dry fruits, flower morphology) in relation to habitat type, openness and surrounding agricultural management.

Results: Midfield islets had higher richness of plant species and flower shapes, and were more similar in composition to semi-natural grassland than forest edges. Species richness in midfield islets increased with habitat openness and in more intensively used (more open) agricultural landscapes. Midfield islets are important habitats for a diversity of nectar/pollen providing flowers from mid-summer and later in the growing season. Forest edges have a higher frequency of fleshy fruits and are an important source of nectar/pollen early in the season.

Conclusions: In landscapes with few other semi-natural habitats, small remnant habitats can contribute to species richness of plants, fleshy fruits and flower shapes. However they are not able to fully compensate for the decrease of semi-natural grasslands. Viewed over the whole growing season, several different habitats are needed to maintain foraging possibilities for pollinators in the landscape. Through habitat complementarity, midfield islets and forest edges with deciduous trees and shrubs, contribute to this function.

Keyword [en]
biodiversity, fleshy fruits, flowering time, forest edge, functional diversity, grassland, midfield islets, plant-pollinator interaction, seed dispersal, small remnant habitat
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Physical Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-148650OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-148650DiVA: diva2:1154525
Available from: 2017-11-02 Created: 2017-11-02 Last updated: 2017-11-03Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Small remnant habitats: Important structures in fragmented landscapes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Small remnant habitats: Important structures in fragmented landscapes
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The world-wide intensification of agriculture has led to a decline in species richness due to land use change, isolation, and fragmentation of natural and semi-natural habitats in agricultural and forestry landscapes. As a consequence, there is a current landscape management focus on the importance of green infrastructure to mitigate biodiversity decline and preserve ecosystem functions e.g. pollination services and pest control. Even though intensification in agriculture has been ongoing for several hundreds of years, remnant habitats from earlier management practices may still be remaining with a surprisingly high plant richness. Preserving these habitats could help conserving plant species richness in agricultural landscapes, as well as other organisms that are dependent on plants for food and shelter.

In this thesis I focus on two small remnant habitats; midfield islets and borders between managed forest and crop field in southeastern Sweden. In the past, both habitats were included in the grazing system and therefore often still have remnant population of grassland specialist species left today. I have used these two remnant habitats as model habitats to investigate the effect of landscape factors and local factors on species richness of plants, flower morphologies and plants with fleshy fruits. Additively, I analysed the effect of surrounding landscape and local openness on the functions; pollination success, biological pest control of aphids and seed predation on midfield islets.

One of my studies showed that spatial distribution and size of the habitat affected plant species richness. Larger habitat size and higher connectivity between habitats increased species richness of plants in the habitats. Openness of the habitats was shown to be an important factor to increase species richness and richness of flower morphologies, both on midfield islets and in forest borders. Even though midfield islets had the highest species and morphology richness, both habitat types are needed for habitat complementary as forest borders have more plants with fleshy fruits and a higher richness of plant species that flowers in spring/early summer. It was also shown that a more complex forest border, not just with gaps in the canopy, but also with high variation in tree stem sizes increases plant species richness in the field layer. The conclusion is that by managing small remnant habitats to remain or become more semi-open and complex in their structure, would increase species richness of plants, grassland specialist species, and flower morphologies. It would also increase some ecosystem functions as seed predation and biologic pest control of aphids are more effective close to trees. If both midfield islets and forest borders would be managed to be semi-open, the area and connectivity of semi-open habitat would increase in the agricultural landscape, which may also improve pollination success as the connectivity between populations has a possibility to increase. Grassland specialist species are clearly abundant in the small remnant habitats. As the decline of semi-natural grasslands is causing a decline in grassland specialists’ species, not only plants, I recommend that small remnant habitats are included in conservation and management plans and strategies to improve habitat availability and connectivity for grassland species in agricultural landscapes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, 2017
Series
Dissertations from the Department of Physical Geography, ISSN 1653-7211 ; 70
Keyword
Alpha-diversity, Beta-diversity, Biological pest control, Canopy cover, Connectivity, Ecosystem function, Fleshy fruits, Forest edge, Forest management, Forest specialist species, Fragmentation, Functional diversity, Gamma-diversity, Grassland specialist species, Green infrastructure, Habitat amount hypothesis, Island biogeography, Midfield islets, Plant diversity, Plant-pollinator interaction, Pollination, Remnant habitat, Seed predation, Small habitats, Species richness, Structural heterogeneity
National Category
Ecology Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use Physical Geography
Research subject
Physical Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-148653 (URN)978-91-7797-057-6 (ISBN)978-91-7797-058-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-12-20, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Research funder Ekoklim. Project:4339602.

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-11-27 Created: 2017-11-03 Last updated: 2017-11-22Bibliographically approved

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