Forest loss and matrix composition are the major drivers shaping dung beetle assemblages in a fragmented rainforest
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- Sánchez-de-Jesús, H.A., Arroyo-Rodríguez, V., Andresen, E. et al. Landscape Ecol (2016) 31: 843. doi:10.1007/s10980-015-0293-2
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Identifying the drivers shaping biological assemblages in fragmented tropical landscapes is critical for designing effective conservation strategies. It is still unclear, however, whether tropical biodiversity is more strongly affected by forest loss, by its spatial configuration or by matrix composition across different spatial scales.
Assessing the relative influence of forest patch and landscape attributes on dung beetle assemblages in the fragmented Lacandona rainforest, Mexico.
Using a multimodel inference approach we tested the relative impact of forest patch size and landscape forest cover (measures of forest amount at the patch and landscape scales, respectively), patch shape and isolation (forest configuration indices at the patch scale), forest fragmentation (forest configuration index at the landscape scale), and matrix composition on the diversity, abundance and biomass of dung beetles.
Patch size, landscape forest cover and matrix composition were the best predictors of dung beetle assemblages. Species richness, beetle abundance, and biomass decreased in smaller patches surrounded by a lower percentage of forest cover, and in landscapes dominated by open-area matrices. Community evenness also increased under these conditions due to the loss of rare species.
Forest loss at the patch and landscape levels and matrix composition show a larger impact on dung beetles than forest spatial configuration. To preserve dung beetle assemblages, and their key functional roles in the ecosystem, conservation initiatives should prioritize a reduction in deforestation and an increase in the heterogeneity of the matrix surrounding forest remnants.