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Effects of land use on taxonomic and functional diversity: a cross-taxon analysis in a Mediterranean landscape

Abstract

Land-use change is the major driver of biodiversity loss. However, taxonomic diversity (TD) and functional diversity (FD) might respond differently to land-use change, and this response might also vary depending on the biotic group being analysed. In this study, we compare the TD and FD of four biotic groups (ants, birds, herbaceous, woody vegetation) among four land-use types that represent a gradient of land-use intensity in a Mediterranean landscape (Mediterranean shrublands, dehesas, mixed-pine forests, olive groves). Analyses were performed separately at two different spatial scales: the sampling unit scale and the site scale. Land-use intensity effects on TD and FD were quite different and highly varied among the four biotic groups, with no single clear pattern emerging that could be considered general for all organisms. Additive partitioning of species diversity revealed clear contrasting patterns between TD and FD in the percentage of variability observed at each spatial scale. While most variability in TD was found at the larger scales, irregardless of organism group and land-use type, most variability in FD was found at the smallest scale, indicating that species turnover among communities is much greater than functional trait turnover. Finally, we found that TD and FD did not vary consistently, but rather followed different trajectories that largely depended on the biotic group and the intensity of land-use transformation. Our results highlight that the relationship of land use with TD and FD is highly complex and context-dependent.

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Acknowledgments

Financial support was received from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Project CGL2011-30266). Carlos P. Carmona was supported by a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme (TANDEM; Project ID 626392). Jorge Lozano was supported by a Prometeo Fellowship from the SENESCYT, a national agency for Education and Science of the Government of Ecuador. Special thanks to Ana P. García-Nieto for map design and to César A. López, Desiree Rivera, Pedro Zorrilla-Miras, and Jorge Ortega for field assistance. We also thank three anonymous reviewers for the comments of the previous version of the manuscript. We appreciate the use of data from the TRY initiative on plant traits (http://www.try-db.org). The TRY initiative and database are hosted, developed and maintained by J. Kattge and G. Bönisch (Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany). TRY is currently supported by DIVERSITAS/Future Earth and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig. The experiments comply with the current laws of the country (Spain) in which the experiments were performed.

Author contribution statement

VH, CPC, FMA, PA, and JAG designed experimental research, VH, CPC, FMA and JAG wrote the manuscript, FMA, MT and PA sampled, identified and measured functional traits of woody and herbaceous vegetation, VH, FMA, JAG, SCC and RA sampled and identified ants, SCC measured functional traits of ants, JAG, JL and VH sampled birds, CPC and VH performed statistical analyses.

Author information

Correspondence to Violeta Hevia.

Additional information

Understanding how land use affects biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in different organisms and at different spatial scales in the current context of global change is of critical importance, particularly in the Mediterranean region where biodiversity is threatened by multiple drivers. Our study, which was part of the PhD dissertation of the first author, shows that taxonomic diversity and functional diversity respond differently to land-use intensity and that this response varies among taxonomic groups. Specifically, we found that changes in land use do not necessarily lead to the loss of functional diversity mediated by the loss of species and/or functional traits, with this effect being dependent on the biotic group analysed.

Communicated by Daniel Laughlin.

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Hevia, V., Carmona, C.P., Azcárate, F.M. et al. Effects of land use on taxonomic and functional diversity: a cross-taxon analysis in a Mediterranean landscape. Oecologia 181, 959–970 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-015-3512-2

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Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Diversity partitioning
  • Functional traits
  • Land-use intensity
  • Spatial scale