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Journal Article

Effects of land-use intensity on arthropod species abundance distributions in grasslands


Lange,  Markus
Molecular Biogeochemistry Group, Dr. G. Gleixner, Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. S. E. Trumbore, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Simons, N. K., Gossner, M. M., Lewinsohn, T. M., Lange, M., Türke, M., & Weisser, W. W. (2015). Effects of land-use intensity on arthropod species abundance distributions in grasslands. Journal of Animal Ecology, 84(1), 143-154. doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12278.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-001A-1774-D
1. As a rule, communities consist of few abundant and many rare species, which is reflected in the characteristic shape of species abundance distributions (SADs). The processes that shape these SADs have been a longstanding problem for ecological research. Although many studies found strong negative effects of increasing land-use intensity on diversity, few reports consider land-use effects on SADs. 2. Arthropods (insects and spiders) were sampled on 142 grassland plots in three regions in Germany, which were managed with different modes (mowing, fertilization and/or grazing) and intensities of land use. We analysed the effect of land use on three parameters characterizing the shape of SADs: abundance decay rate (the steepness of the rank abundance curve, represented by the niche-preemption model parameter), dominance (Berger-Parker dominance) and rarity (Fisher’s alpha). Furthermore, we tested the core-satellite hypothesis by comparing the species’ rank within the SAD to their distribution over the land-use gradient. 3. When data on Araneae, Cicadina, Coleoptera, Heteroptera and Orthoptera were combined, abundance decay rate increased with combined land-use intensity (including all modes). Among the single land-use modes, increasing fertilization and grazing intensity increased the decay rate of all taxa, while increasing mowing frequency significantly affected the decay rate only in interaction with fertilization. Results of single taxa differed in their details, but all significant interaction effects included fertilization intensity. Dominance generally increased with increasing fertilization and rarity decreased with increasing grazing or mowing intensity, despite small differences among taxa and regions. The majority of species found on <10% of the plots per region were generally rare (<10 individuals), which is in accordance with the core-satellite hypothesis.We found significant differences in the rarity and dominance of species between plots of low and high intensity for all three land-use modes and for the combined land-use intensity. 4. We conclude that effects of land-use intensity on SADs lead to a stronger dominance of the most abundant species. Furthermore, species which have restricted distributions are more likely to also be rare species in the local SAD and therefore are at high risk of being lost under intensive land use.