Landscape Ecology

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 711–721 | Cite as

Successional change in the insect community of a fragmented landscape

  • Edward A. Martinko
  • Robert H. Hagen
  • Jerry A. Griffith
Research Article


Habitat fragmentation strongly affects insect species diversity and community composition, but few studies have examined landscape effects on long term development of insect communities. As mobile consumers, insects should be sensitive to both local plant community and landscape context. We tested this prediction using sweep-net transects to sample insect communities for 8 years at an experimentally fragmented old-field site in northeastern Kansas, USA. The site included habitat patches undergoing secondary succession, surrounded by a low turf matrix. During the first 5 years, plant richness and cover were measured in patches. Insect species richness, total density, and trophic diversity increased over time on all transects. Cover of woody plants and perennial forbs increased each year, adding structural complexity to successional patches and potentially contributing to increased insect diversity. Within years, insect richness was significantly greater on transects through large successional patches (5000 m2) than on transects through fragmented arrays of 6 medium-sized (total area 1728 m2) or 15 small (480 m2) patches. However, plant cover did not differ among patch types and was uncorrelated with insect richness within years. Insect richness was strongly correlated with insect density, but trophic and α diversities did not differ among patch types, indicating that patch insect communities were subsets of a common species pool. We argue that differences in insect richness resulted from landscape effects on the size of these subsets, not patch succession rates. Greater insect richness on large patches can be explained as a community-level consequence of population responses to resource concentration.


Abundance Habitat fragmentation Insect community Insecta Old field Resource concentration Secondary succession Species diversity Species richness Sweep-net 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward A. Martinko
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robert H. Hagen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jerry A. Griffith
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Ecology & Evolutionary BiologyLawrenceUSA
  2. 2.Kansas Biological surveyLawrenceUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of KansasLawrence USA
  4. 4.Department of GeographyUniversity of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA

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