Gastropod communities in alpine grasslands are characterized by high beta diversity

Abstract

Alpine grasslands harbour species-rich communities of plants and invertebrates. We examined how environmental variables and anthropogenic impact shape species richness and community structure of terrestrial gastropods in alpine grasslands in the Val Müstair (Eastern Alps, Switzerland). Gastropods were sampled using a standardised method at 76 sites spanning an elevation range from 1430 m to 2770 m. A total of 4763 specimens representing 52 species were recorded. Correspondence analysis based on presence/absence data revealed that the grassland gastropod community was structured in a complex way with elevation, wetness, grazing intensity and inclination of the sites as key factors, while abundance-based analysis identified the importance of the elevation and wetness of sites. Generalized linear model showed that species richness decreased with increasing elevation and increased with increasing soil pH. The grassland gastropod communities were characterized by a high beta diversity, as indicated by the SDR-simplex analysis. Species-specific traits of gastropods showed sensitivity to the environmental characters of the sites, as shown by a fourth-corner analysis.

Abbreviations

AIC:

Akaike’s Information Criterion

CA:

Correspondence analysis

GLM:

Generalized linear model

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Schmera, D., Baur, B. Gastropod communities in alpine grasslands are characterized by high beta diversity. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY 15, 246–255 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1556/ComEc.15.2014.2.13

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Keywords

  • Community assembly
  • Grassland management
  • Grazing intensity
  • SDR-simplex analysis
  • Species richness
  • Species traits