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  • Rigal, Francois; Cardoso, Pedro; Lobo, Jorge M.; Triantis, Kostas A.; Whittaker, Robert J.; Amorim, Isabel R.; Borges, Paulo A. V. (2018)
    Aim: Land-use change typically goes hand in hand with the introduction of exotic-species, which mingle with indigenous species to form novel assemblages. Here, we compare the functional structure of indigenous and exotic elements of ground-dwelling arthropod assemblages across four land-uses of varying management intensity. Location: Terceira Island (Azores, North Atlantic). Methods: We used pitfall traps to sample arthropods in 36 sites across the four land-uses and collated traits related to dispersal ability, body size and resource use. For both indigenous and exotic species, we examined the impact of land-uses on trait diversity and tested for the existence of non-random assembly processes using null models. We analysed differences in trait composition among land-uses for both indigenous and exotic species with multivariate analyses. We used point-biserial correlations to identity traits significantly correlated with specific land-uses for each element. Results: We recorded 86 indigenous and 116 exotic arthropod species. Under high-intensity land-use, both indigenous and exotic elements showed significant trait clustering. Trait composition strongly shifted across land-uses, with indigenous and exotic species being functionally dissimilar in all land-uses. Large-bodied herbivores dominated exotic elements in low-intensity land-uses, while small-bodied spiders dominated exotic elements in high-intensity land-uses. In contrast, with increasing land-use intensity, indigenous species changed from functionally diverse to being dominated by piercing and cutting herbivores. Main conclusions: Our study revealed two main findings: first, in high-intensity - land-uses, trait clustering characterized both indigenous and exotic elements; second, exotic species differed in their functional profile from indigenous species in all land-use types. Overall, our results provide new insights into the functional role of exotic species in a land-use context, suggesting that, in agricultural landscape, exotic species may contribute positively to the maintenance of some ecosystem functions.
  • Pakanen, Veli-Matti; Aikio, Sami; Luukkonen, Aappo; Koivula, Kari (2016)
    The effect of habitat management is commonly evaluated by measuring population growth, which does not distinguish changes in reproductive success from changes in survival or the effects of immigration or emigration. Management has rarely been evaluated considering complete life cycle of the target organisms, including also possible negative impacts from management. We evaluated the effectiveness of cattle grazing in the restoration of coastal meadows as a breeding habitat for small and medium-sized ground-nesting birds by examining the size and demography of a southern dunlin (Calidris alpina schinzii) breeding population. Using a stochastic renesting model that includes within-season variation in breeding parameters, we evaluated the effect of grazing time and stocking rates on reproduction. The census data indicated that the population was stable when nest trampling was prevented, but detailed demographic models showed that the population on managed meadows was a sink that persisted by attracting immigrants. Even small reductions in reproductive success caused by trampling were detrimental to long-term viability. We suggest that the best management strategy is to postpone grazing to after the 19th of June, which is about three weeks later than what is optimal from the farmer's point of view. The differing results from the two evaluation approaches warn against planning and evaluating management only based on census population size and highlight the need to consider target-specific life history characteristics and demography. Even though grazing management is crucial for creating and maintaining suitable habitats, we found that it was insufficient in maintaining a viable population without additional measures that increase nest success. In the presently studied case and in populations with similar breeding cycles, impacts from nest trampling can be avoided by starting grazing when about 70% of the breeding season has past.