Species abundance distributions reveal environmental heterogeneity in modified landscapes

Dornelas, Maria, Moonen, Anna Camilla, Magurran, Anne E., and Barberi, Paolo (2009) Species abundance distributions reveal environmental heterogeneity in modified landscapes. Journal of Applied Ecology, 46 (3). pp. 666-672.

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Summary 1.Environmental heterogeneity influences biodiversity patterns such as species richness and community composition, but we do not know how it shapes community structure in terms of the number of rare and abundant species. This question is particularly relevant to modified landscapes such as agro-ecosystems, where intensive management creates highly homogeneous landscapes, which often lead to loss of rare taxa and dominance by a few aggressive species. 2. It can be difficult to evaluate the effects of management on communities in different localities due to regional differences in species richness and composition. Because species abundance distributions (SADs) express assemblage structure in comparable units, they can be used to characterize communities irrespective of species composition, and for this reason provide a novel means of assessing the effects of management. 3. We analysed the SADs of weed communities across a gradient of environmental heterogeneity generated by different management treatments. We tested the hypothesis that environmental heterogeneity promotes multimodality in SADs by comparing observed patterns with those predicted for simulated random samples from homogeneous communities. 4. Observed SADs from a homogeneous environment did not deviate from predictions. By contrast, SADs from increasingly heterogeneous environments were progressively and consistently multimodal. 5. These results demonstrate that environmental heterogeneity, resulting from variation in management treatments, leaves a signature on the SAD. 6. Synthesis and applications. Our study shows that Species Abundance Distributions are informative indicators of environmental heterogeneity in modified landscapes. Weed communities include both rare species, which are often of conservation interest and pose little threat to crops, and abundant species, which can be problematic. Our analysis suggests that creating environmental heterogeneity by varying management treatments across the landscape can be an effective way of promoting biodiversity and decreasing the abundance of problematic species.

Item ID: 11077
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2664
Keywords: community structure; diversity; agriculture; weed; conservation; wild plant
Additional Information:

Supporting Information Additional Supporting Information may be found in the online version of this article: Fig. S1. Sampling design of the study. Fig. S2. Mean SADs for blocks pooled within each treatment. Fig. S3. Mean SADs for one treatment pooled. Fig. S4. Mean SADs for two treatments pooled. Fig. S5. Global SADs.

Funders: Maria Dornelas thanks Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Maria Dornelas thanks the Australian Research Council , We thank SSSUP for financial support of the long-term experiment, Personnel of the CIRAA E. Avanzi in San Piero a Grado, for managing the long-term experiment that generated this data
Date Deposited: 12 May 2010 05:08
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050399 Soil Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8299 Other Plant Production and Plant Primary Products > 829999 Plant Production and Plant Primary Products not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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