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Habitat proximity exerts opposing effects on key ecological functions
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden.
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Number of Authors: 102018 (English)In: Landscape Ecology, ISSN 0921-2973, E-ISSN 1572-9761, Vol. 33, no 8, p. 1273-1286Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Connectivity is an important property of landscapes that shapes populations and ecosystem functioning. We do not know, however, whether and how different types of spatial linkages combine to influence ecological functions, and this hampers their integration into conservation planning. We used coral reef seascapes in eastern Australia as a model system to test whether the proximity of other reefs (habitat proximity) or the proximity of other habitats (seascape proximity) exert stronger effects on two key ecological functions (herbivory and piscivory). We measured rates of herbivory (on fleshy macroalgae) and piscivory (on prey fish) on reefs that differed in their proximity to both other reefs and nearby mangroves and seagrass. The extent of habitat proximity between reefs significantly influenced both ecological functions, but in different ways: isolated reefs supported high herbivory but low piscivory, whilst, conversely, reefs that were closer to other reefs supported high piscivory but low herbivory. This was not caused by herbivores avoiding their predators, as the dominant piscivores (small predatory snappers) were too small to consume the dominant herbivores (large rabbitfishes). Seascape proximity (e.g., distance to mangroves or seagrass) was less important in shaping ecological functions on reefs in this system. We suggest that the effects of seascape configuration on ecological functions depends on the type of spatial linkage, and the ecological functions in question. To better integrate connectivity into conservation, we must develop a deeper understanding of how different spatial linkages combine to shape ecosystem functioning across landscapes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 33, no 8, p. 1273-1286
Keywords [en]
Seascape, Predation, Herbivory, Fish, Coral reefs, Asymmetry, Connectivity
National Category
Biological Sciences Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-159027DOI: 10.1007/s10980-018-0680-6ISI: 000439347700004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-159027DiVA, id: diva2:1245670
Available from: 2018-09-05 Created: 2018-09-05 Last updated: 2018-09-05Bibliographically approved

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