Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Responses of ground living arthropods to landscape contrast and context in a forest-grassland mosaic.

Abstract

Landscape context and contrast are major features of transformed landscapes. These concepts are largely described in terms of vegetation and land use, and are rarely used on how other biodiversity responds to these anthropogenic boundaries. South African grassland matrix is naturally dotted with indigenous forest patches which have recently been transformed with plantations of non-native species. We investigate how various arthropod groups (detritivores, predators, ants) respond to juxtaposition of pines, natural forests and grasslands. We assess landscape context effects between natural forests and pines by determining how species that commonly occur in the interiors of these habitats use the adjacent habitat, and how landscape contrast between natural forests and grassland affects these groups proportionately. We sampled arthropods using pitfall traps and active searches in transects running from natural forest interiors across the edge into the matrix interior (grassland or pines). Natural forests had higher predator and detritivore diversity, while grassland had greater ant diversity. Results highlighted the complementarity of natural forests and grassland for arthropod diversity. Higher beta-diversity was recorded across landscape contrast than landscape context. Pine and natural forest associated species overlapped into adjacent habitats indicating that pines are used by certain natural forest species. However, pines are not true natural forest extensions, with only some species being supported. Pines may be connecting naturally isolated arthropod populations, which could have important evolutionary consequences. Only through appreciation of a range of arthropod groups and their response to context and contrast across the whole landscape can we undertake meaningful biodiversity conservation.