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  • 1.
    Cousins, Sara A. O.
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Auffret, Alistair G.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Lindgren, Jessica
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Tränk, Louise
    Regional-scale land-cover change during the 20th century and its consequences for biodiversity2015In: Ambio, ISSN 0044-7447, E-ISSN 1654-7209, Vol. 44, p. S17-S27Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Extensive changes in land cover during the 20th century are known to have had detrimental effects on biodiversity in rural landscapes, but the magnitude of change and their ecological effects are not well known on regional scales. We digitized historical maps from the beginning of the 20th century over a 1652 km(2) study area in southeastern Sweden, comparing it to modern-day land cover with a focus on valuable habitat types. Semi-natural grassland cover decreased by over 96 % in the study area, being largely lost to afforestation and silviculture. Grasslands on finer soils were more likely to be converted into modern grassland or arable fields. However, in addition to remaining semi-natural grassland, today's valuable deciduous forest and wetland habitats were mostly grazed grassland in 1900. An analysis of the landscape-level biodiversity revealed that plant species richness was generally more related to the modern landscape, with grazing management being a positive influence on species richness.

  • 2. Ehrmann, Steffen
    et al.
    Liira, Jaan
    Gärtner, Stefanie
    Hansen, Karin
    Brunet, Jörg
    Cousins, Sara A. O.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Deconchat, Marc
    Decocq, Guillaume
    De Frenne, Pieter
    De Smedt, Pallieter
    Diekmann, Martin
    Gallet-Moron, Emilie
    Kolb, Annette
    Lenoir, Jonathan
    Lindgren, Jessica
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Naaf, Tobias
    Paal, Taavi
    Valdés, Alicia
    Verheyen, Kris
    Wulf, Monika
    Scherer-Lorenzen, Michael
    Environmental drivers of Ixodes ricinus abundance in forest fragments of rural European landscapes2017In: BMC Ecology, ISSN 1472-6785, E-ISSN 1472-6785, Vol. 17, article id 31Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background: The castor bean tick (Ixodes ricinus) transmits infectious diseases such as Lyme borreliosis, which constitutes an important ecosystem disservice. Despite many local studies, a comprehensive understanding of the key drivers of tick abundance at the continental scale is still lacking. We analyze a large set of environmental factors as potential drivers of I. ricinus abundance. Our multi-scale study was carried out in deciduous forest fragments dispersed within two contrasting rural landscapes of eight regions, along a macroclimatic gradient stretching from southern France to central Sweden and Estonia. We surveyed the abundance of I. ricinus, plant community composition, forest structure and soil properties and compiled data on landscape structure, macroclimate and habitat properties. We used linear mixed models to analyze patterns and derived the relative importance of the significant drivers. Results: Many drivers had, on their own, either a moderate or small explanatory value for the abundance of I. ricinus, but combined they explained a substantial part of variation. This emphasizes the complex ecology of I. ricinus and the relevance of environmental factors for tick abundance. Macroclimate only explained a small fraction of variation, while properties of macro- and microhabitat, which buffer macroclimate, had a considerable impact on tick abundance. The amount of forest and the composition of the surrounding rural landscape were additionally important drivers of tick abundance. Functional (dispersules) and structural (density of tree and shrub layers) properties of the habitat patch played an important role. Various diversity metrics had only a small relative importance. Ontogenetic tick stages showed pronounced differences in their response. The abundance of nymphs and adults is explained by the preceding stage with a positive relationship, indicating a cumulative effect of drivers. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the ecosystem disservices of tick-borne diseases, via the abundance of ticks, strongly depends on habitat properties and thus on how humans manage ecosystems from the scale of the microhabitat to the landscape. This study stresses the need to further evaluate the interaction between climate change and ecosystem management on I. ricinus abundance.

  • 3. Ehrmann, Steffen
    et al.
    Ruyts, Sanne C.
    Scherer-Lorenzen, Michael
    Bauhus, Jürgen
    Brunet, Jörg
    Cousins, Sara A. O.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
    Deconchat, Marc
    Decocq, Guillaume
    De Frenne, Pieter
    De Smedt, Pallieter
    Diekmann, Martin
    Gallet-Moron, Emilie
    Gärtner, Stefanie
    Hansen, Karin
    Kolb, Annette
    Lenoir, Jonathan
    Lindgren, Jessica
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
    Naaf, Tobias
    Paal, Taavi
    Panning, Marcus
    Prinz, Maren
    Valdés, Alicia
    Verheyen, Kris
    Wulf, Monika
    Liira, Jaan
    Habitat properties are key drivers of Borrelia burgdorferi (s.l.) prevalence in Ixodes ricinus populations of deciduous forest fragments2018In: Parasites & Vectors, ISSN 1756-3305, E-ISSN 1756-3305, Vol. 11, article id 23Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Background

    The tick Ixodes ricinus has considerable impact on the health of humans and other terrestrial animals because it transmits several tick-borne pathogens (TBPs) such as B. burgdorferi (sensu lato), which causes Lyme borreliosis (LB). Small forest patches of agricultural landscapes provide many ecosystem services and also the disservice of LB risk. Biotic interactions and environmental filtering shape tick host communities distinctively between specific regions of Europe, which makes evaluating the dilution effect hypothesis and its influence across various scales challenging. Latitude, macroclimate, landscape and habitat properties drive both hosts and ticks and are comparable metrics across Europe. Therefore, we instead assess these environmental drivers as indicators and determine their respective roles for the prevalence of B. burgdorferi in I. ricinus.

    Methods

    We sampled I. ricinus and measured environmental properties of macroclimate, landscape and habitat quality of forest patches in agricultural landscapes along a European macroclimatic gradient. We used linear mixed models to determine significant drivers and their relative importance for nymphal and adult B. burgdorferi prevalence. We suggest a new prevalence index, which is pool-size independent.

    Results

    During summer months, our prevalence index varied between 0 and 0.4 per forest patch, indicating a low to moderate disservice. Habitat properties exerted a fourfold larger influence on B. burgdorferi prevalence than macroclimate and landscape properties combined. Increasingly available ecotone habitat of focal forest patches diluted and edge density at landscape scale amplified B. burgdorferi prevalence. Indicators of habitat attractiveness for tick hosts (food resources and shelter) were the most important predictors within habitat patches. More diverse and abundant macro and microhabitat had a diluting effect, as it presumably diversifies the niches for tick-hosts and decreases the probability of contact between ticks and their hosts and hence the transmission likelihood.

    Conclusions

    Diluting effects of more diverse habitat patches would pose another reason to maintain or restore high biodiversity in forest patches of rural landscapes. We suggest classifying habitat patches by their regulating services as dilution and amplification habitat, which predominantly either decrease or increase B. burgdorferi prevalence at local and landscape scale and hence LB risk. Particular emphasis on promoting LB-diluting properties should be put on the management of those habitats that are frequently used by humans. In the light of these findings, climate change may be of little concern for LB risk at local scales, but this should be evaluated further.

  • 4.
    Lindgren, Jessica
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Small remnant habitats: Important structures in fragmented landscapes2017Doctoral 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.

  • 5.
    Lindgren, Jessica
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Kimberley, Adam
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Cousins, Sara A. O.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    The complexity of forest borders determines the understory vegetation2018In: Applied Vegetation Science, ISSN 1402-2001, E-ISSN 1654-109X, Vol. 21, no 1, p. 85-93Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Questions: What are the most important drivers of plant species richness (γ-diversity) and species turnover (β-diversity) in the field layer of a forest edge? Does the tree and shrub species richness structure and complexity affect the richness of forest and grassland specialist species?

    Location: South-eastern Sweden.

    Methods: We sampled 50 forest edges with different levels of structural complexity in agricultural landscapes. In each border we recorded trees, shrubs and herb layer species in a 50 m transect parallel with the forest. We investigated species composition and species turnover in relationship to the proportions of gaps the border, the diversity of trees and shrubs and distance to semi-natural grasslands.

    Results: Total plant species richness in the field layer was mainly explained by the proportion of gaps to areas with full canopy cover, and tree diversity. Increasing number of gaps promoted higher diversity of grassland specialist species within the field layer, resulting in open forest borders with the highest overall species richness. Gaps did however have a negative impact on forest species richness. Conversely, increasing forest species richness was positively related to tree diversity but number of grassland specialist species was negatively affected by tree diversity.

    Conclusions: Managing forest borders, and therefore increasing the area of semi-open habitats in fragmented agricultural landscapes, gives future opportunities to create a network of suitable habitats for both grassland and deciduous forest specialist species. Such measures therefore have the potential to increase functional connectivity and support dispersal of species in homogeneous forest/agriculture landscapes.

  • 6.
    Lindgren, Jessica
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Kimberley, Adam
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Eriksson, Ove
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
    Cousins, Sara
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Habitat complementary supports pollinators and frugivores in agricultural landscapesManuscript (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.

  • 7.
    Lindgren, Jessica
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Lindborg, Regina
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Cousins, Sara A. O.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Local conditions in small habitats and surrounding landscape are important for pollination services, biological pest control and seed predation2018In: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, ISSN 0167-8809, E-ISSN 1873-2305, Vol. 251, p. 107-113Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Small semi-natural and natural habitats in agricultural landscapes are important for biodiversity. With modern and more intensive agricultural practices they have become smaller (less than 1600 m2) and more isolated study which also affects ecosystem functions. Most ecosystem function studies using field experiments focus on a single function. Here, we investigate three functions in the same landscape at the same time. We investigated how local (trees, shrubs and grass-cover in small remnant habitats) and landscape factors (amount of and distance from key habitats i.e. forest and semi-natural grasslands) affect pollination, biological pest control and seed predation. We applied a multifunctional approach using different organisms to analyze pollination success (Primula veris), predation on aphid pests (Rhopalosiphum padi) and seed predation (of Helianthus annuus). A set-up of 3 different experiments were placed in situ on 12 midfield islets. Pollination was more affected by local factors than landscape factors, although pollination success was improved by a smaller proportions of surrounding crop fields. Seed predation was higher on islets with more surrounding forest and also with more trees on the habitat, especially close to shrubs, compared to more open areas of habitat. Predation on aphids decreased on midfield islets with a larger amount of nearby forest but was positively affected by increasing local tree cover on the habitat.

    We show that managing semi-open habitats that are connected to other natural or semi-natural habitats can improve pollination success and biological pest and weed control, thus potentially increasing yield in surrounding crop fields.

  • 8.
    Lindgren, Jessica P.
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Cousins, Sara A. O.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
    Island biogeography theory outweighs habitat amount hypothesis in predicting plant species richness in small grassland remnants2017In: Landscape Ecology, ISSN 0921-2973, E-ISSN 1572-9761, Vol. 32, no 9, p. 1895-1906Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Context

    The habitat amount hypothesis has rarely been tested on plant communities. It remains unclear how habitat amount affect species richness in habitat fragments compared to island effects such as isolation and patch size.

    Objectives

    How do patch size and spatial distribution compared to habitat amount predict plant species richness and grassland specialist plant species in small grassland remnants? How does sampling area affect the prediction of spatial variables on species richness?

    Methods

    We recorded plant species density and richness on 131 midfield islets (small remnants of semi-natural grassland) situated in 27 landscapes in Sweden. Further, we tested how habitat amount, compared to focal patch size and distance to nearest neighbor predicted species density and richness of plants and of grassland specialists.

    Results

    A total of 381 plant species were recorded (including 85 grassland specialist species). A combination of patch size and isolation was better in predicting both density and richness of species compared to habitat amount. Almost 45% of species richness and 23% of specialist species were explained by island biogeography parameters compared to 19 and 11% by the amount of habitat. A scaled sampling method increased the explanation level of island biogeography parameters and habitat amount.

    Conclusions

    Habitat amount as a concept is not as good as island biogeography to predict species richness in small habitats. Priority in landscape planning should be on larger patches rather than several small, even if they are close together. We recommend a sampling area scaled to patch size in small habitats.

  • 9. Valdés, Alicia
    et al.
    Lenoir, Jonathan
    Gallet-Moron, Emilie
    Andrieu, Emilie
    Brunet, Jörg
    Chabrerie, Olivier
    Closset-Kopp, Déborah
    Cousins, Sara A. O.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
    Deconchat, Marc
    De Frenne, Pieter
    De Smedt, Pallieter
    Diekmann, Martin
    Hansen, Karin
    Hermy, Martin
    Kolb, Annette
    Liira, Jaan
    Lindgren, Jessica
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology.
    Naaf, Tobias
    Paal, Taavi
    Prokofieva, Irina
    Scherer-Lorenzen, Michael
    Wulf, Monika
    Verheyen, Kris
    Decocq, Guillaume
    The contribution of patch-scale conditions is greater than that of macroclimate in explaining local plant diversity in fragmented forests across Europe2015In: Global Ecology and Biogeography, ISSN 1466-822X, E-ISSN 1466-8238, Vol. 24, no 9, p. 1094-1105Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    AimMacroclimate is a major determinant of large-scale diversity patterns. However, the influence of smaller-scale factors on local diversity across large spatial extents is not well documented. Here, we quantify the relative importance of local (patch-scale), landscape-scale and macroclimatic drivers of herbaceous species diversity in small forest patches in agricultural landscapes across Europe. LocationDeciduous forest patches in eight regions along a macroclimatic gradient from southern France to central Sweden and Estonia. MethodsThe diversity of forest specialists and generalists at three levels (whole forest patch, sampling plots within patches and between scales) was related to patch-scale (forest area, age, abiotic and biotic heterogeneity), landscape-scale (amount of forest, grasslands and hedgerows around the patch, patch isolation) and macroclimatic variables (temperature and precipitation) using generalized linear mixed models and variation partitioning for each group of variables. ResultsThe total amount of explained variation in diversity ranged from 8% for plot-scale diversity of generalists to 54% for patch-scale diversity of forest specialists. Patch-scale variables always explained more than 60% of the explained variation in diversity, mainly due to the positive effect of within-patch heterogeneity on patch-scale and between-scale diversities and to the positive effect of patch age on plot-scale diversity of forest specialists. Landscape-scale variables mainly contributed to the amount of explained variation in plot-scale diversity, being more important for forest specialists (21%) than for generalists (18%). Macroclimatic variables contributed a maximum of 11% to the plot-scale diversity of generalists. Main conclusionsMacroclimate poorly predicts local diversity across Europe, and herbaceous diversity is mainly explained by habitat features, less so by landscape structure. We show the importance of conserving old forest patches as refugia for typical forest species, and of enhancing the landscape context around the patches by reducing the degree of disturbance caused by agriculture.

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