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Linking mesoscale landscape heterogeneity and biodiversity: gardens and tree cover significantly modify flower-visiting beetle communities

Foster, Christopher W., Neumann, Jessica L., Holloway, Graham J.
Landscape ecology 2019 v.34 no.5 pp. 1081-1095
Coleoptera, agroecosystems, biodiversity, community structure, dead wood, gardens, habitats, insect communities, insects, landscapes, planning, trees, urban areas, United Kingdom
CONTEXT: Maintaining biodiversity in multifunction landscapes is a significant challenge. Planning for the impacts of change requires knowledge of how species respond to landscape heterogeneity. Some insect groups are known to respond to heterogeneity at the mesoscale, defined here as hundreds of metres. However, for many taxa these effects are poorly known. OBJECTIVES: To identify key elements of mesoscale landscape heterogeneity influencing community composition in flower-visiting beetles, and whether landscape explains any variation in beetle communities beyond that driven by immediate habitat cover. METHODS: Flower-visiting beetles were sampled from 36 transects, laid out using a 6 km² grid located in southern Britain. Landscape heterogeneity was measured for 30 and 200 m buffers around the transects and the relative response of beetle communities to each assessed using ordination analyses followed by variation partitioning. RESULTS: The composition of immediately adjacent habitat (30 m) and mesoscale landscape heterogeneity (200 m) explained unique portions of the variation in flower-visiting beetle communities. A number of species, including those affiliated with deadwood habitats, were positively linked to tree cover in the surrounding mesoscale landscape. Gardens covered a smaller area than trees but modified beetle communities to the same extent. CONCLUSIONS: The local abundance of some flower-visiting beetles is modified by the composition of the surrounding landscape. Results highlight the importance of tree cover for maintaining insect biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, while suggesting that gardens associated with small urban areas may have a disproportionate influence on biodiversity.