Landscape Ecology

, Volume 33, Issue 7, pp 1117–1132 | Cite as

Landscape and habitat filters jointly drive richness and abundance of specialist plants in terrestrial habitat islands

  • Balázs Deák
  • Orsolya ValkóEmail author
  • Péter Török
  • András Kelemen
  • Ádám Bede
  • András István Csathó
  • Béla Tóthmérész
Research Article



Landscape and habitat filters are major drivers of biodiversity of small habitat islands by influencing dispersal and extinction events in plant metapopulations.


We assessed the effects of landscape and habitat filters on the species richness, abundance and trait composition of grassland specialist and generalist plants in small habitat islands. We studied traits related to functional spatial connectivity (dispersal ability by wind and animals) and temporal connectivity (clonality and seed bank persistence) using model selection.


We sampled herbaceous plants, landscape (local and regional isolation) and habitat filters (inclination, woody encroachment and disturbance) in 82 grassland islands in Hungary.


Isolation decreased the abundance of good disperser specialist plants due to the lack of directional vectors transferring seeds between suitable habitat patches. Clonality was an effective strategy, but persistent seed bank did not support the survival of specialist plants in isolated habitats. Generalist plants were unaffected by landscape filters due to their wide habitat breadth and high propagule availability. Clonal specialist plants could cope with increasing woody encroachment due to their high resistance against environmental changes; however, they could not cope with intensive disturbance. Steep slopes providing environmental heterogeneity had an overall positive effect on species richness.


Specialist plants were influenced by the interplay of landscape filters influencing their abundance and habitat filters affecting species richness. Landscape filtering by isolation influenced the abundance of specialist plants by regulating seed dispersal. Habitat filters sorted species that could establish and persist at a site by influencing microsite availability and quality.


Biotic interactions Dispersal filter Historical landscape Kurgan Landscape composition Spatial connectivity Temporal connectivity 



The authors were supported by OTKA PD 115627 (BD), OTKA PD 111807 (OV), NKFI FK 124404 (OV), NKFI KH 126476 (OV), NKFI ERC-16-M-127070 (OV); NKFI K 167477 (BT), OTKA K 116639 (BT), NKFIH K 119225 (PT) and NKFIH PD 121126 (ÁB) projects. The project was supported by the Bolyai János Research Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (BD, OV). AK was funded by the MTA’s Postdoctoral Research Programme. BD and OV were supported by the ÚNKP-17-4-III-DE-160 and ÚNKP-17-4-III-DE-151 New National Excellence Programme of the Ministry of Human Capacities. We are grateful to Aiko Huckauf for improving the English of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10980_2018_660_MOESM1_ESM.xls (36 kb)
Table S1. List and mean cover scores of grassland specialist plants recorded on the studied kurgans. Frequency scores refer to the number of kurgans where a certain species was recorded. Red-listed species are marked with an asterisk (XLS 36 kb)
10980_2018_660_MOESM2_ESM.xls (76 kb)
Table S2. List and mean cover scores of generalist plants recorded on the studied kurgans. Frequency scores refer to the number of kurgans where a certain species was recorded (XLS 76 kb)
10980_2018_660_MOESM3_ESM.xls (36 kb)
Table S3. Full model selection tables fitted on the species richness of the functional groups of specialist plants (XLS 36 kb)
10980_2018_660_MOESM4_ESM.xls (36 kb)
Table S4. Full model selection tables fitted on the abundance of the functional groups of specialist plants (XLS 36 kb)
10980_2018_660_MOESM5_ESM.xls (36 kb)
Table S5. Full model selection tables fitted on the species richness of the functional groups of generalist plants (XLS 36 kb)
10980_2018_660_MOESM6_ESM.xls (36 kb)
Table S6. Full model selection tables fitted on the abundance of the functional groups of generalist plants (XLS 36 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MTA-DE Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Research GroupDebrecenHungary
  2. 2.Department of EcologyUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  3. 3.MTA-DE Lendület Functional and Restoration Ecology Research GroupDebrecenHungary
  4. 4.MTA’s Postdoctoral Research ProgrammeMTA TKIBudapestHungary
  5. 5.Department of Geology and PaleontologyUniversity of SzegedSzegedHungary
  6. 6.Körös-Maros National Park DirectorateSzarvasHungary

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