National-scale metacommunity dynamics of carabid beetles in UK farmland

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Brooks, D. R., Perry, J. N., Clark, S. J., Heard, M. S., Firbank, L. G., Holdgate, R., Mason, N. S., Shortall, C. R., Skellern, M. P. and Woiwod, I. P. 2008. National-scale metacommunity dynamics of carabid beetles in UK farmland. Journal of Animal Ecology. 77 (2), pp. 265-274.

AuthorsBrooks, D. R., Perry, J. N., Clark, S. J., Heard, M. S., Firbank, L. G., Holdgate, R., Mason, N. S., Shortall, C. R., Skellern, M. P. and Woiwod, I. P.
Abstract

1. Understanding the wide-scale processes controlling communities across multiple sites is a foremost challenge of modern ecology. Here, data from a nation-wide network of field sites are used to describe the metacommunity dynamics of arable carabid beetles. This is done by modelling how communities are structured at a local level, by changes in the environment of the sampled fields and, at a regional level, by fitting spatial parameters describing latitudinal and longitudinal gradients. 2. Local and regional processes demonstrated independent and significant capacities for structuring communities. Within the local environment, crop type was found to be the primary determinant of carabid community composition. The regional component included a strong response to a longitudinal gradient, with significant increases in diversity in an east-to-west direction. 3. Carabid metacommunities seem to be structured by a combination of species sorting dynamics, operating at two different, but equally important, spatial scales. At a local scale, species are sorted along a resource gradient determined by crop type. At a wider spatial scale species appear to be sorted along a longitudinal gradient. 4. Nation-wide trends in communities coincided with known gradients of increased homogeneity of habitat mosaics and agricultural intensification. However, more work is required to understand fully how communities are controlled by the interaction of crops with changes in landscape structure at different spatial scales. 5.We conclude that crop type is a powerful determinant of carabid biodiversity, but that it cannot be considered in isolation from other components of the landscape for optimal conservation policy.

KeywordsEcology; Zoology
Year of Publication2008
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Journal citation77 (2), pp. 265-274
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2007.01331.x
PubMed ID18031524
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Funder project or codeSEF
Centre for Mathematical and Computational Biology (MCB)
Landscape & Ecology (LE)
North Wyke Research (NWR)
ISSN00218790
PublisherWiley

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