High spatial variation in terrestrial arthropod species diversity and composition near the Greenland ice cap
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- Hansen, R.R., Hansen, O.L.P., Bowden, J.J. et al. Polar Biol (2016) 39: 2263. doi:10.1007/s00300-016-1893-2
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Arthropods form a major part of the terrestrial species diversity in the Arctic, and are particularly sensitive to temporal changes in the abiotic environment. It is assumed that most Arctic arthropods are habitat generalists and that their diversity patterns exhibit low spatial variation. The empirical basis for this assumption, however, is weak. We examine the degree of spatial variation in species diversity and assemblage structure among five habitat types at two sites of similar abiotic conditions and plant species composition in southwest Greenland, using standardized field collection methods for spiders, beetles and butterflies. We employed non-metric multidimensional scaling, species richness estimation, community dissimilarity and indicator species analysis to test for local (within site)- and regional (between site)-scale differences in arthropod communities. To identify specific drivers of local arthropod assemblages, we used a combination of ordination techniques and linear regression. Species richness and the species pool differed between sites, with the latter indicating high species turnover. Local-scale assemblage patterns were related to soil moisture and temperature. We conclude that Arctic arthropod species assemblages vary substantially over short distances due to local soil characteristics, while regional variation in the species pool is likely influenced by geographic barriers, i.e., inland ice sheet, glaciers, mountains and large water bodies. In order to predict future changes to Arctic arthropod diversity, further efforts are needed to disentangle contemporary drivers of diversity at multiple spatial scales.