Cross-taxon congruence in insect responses to fragmentation of Brazilian Atlantic forest

Bruno K.C. Filgueiras, Douglas H.A. Melo, Alan N. Andersen, Marcelo Tabarelli, Inara R. Leal

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    Anthropogenic disturbance causes many impacts across multiple levels of biological organization from populations to ecosystems. However, the extent of cross-taxon congruence in biotic responses to disturbance, and therefore the utility of using particular taxa as indicators of broader biotic responses, is poorly known. In this study, we examine the extent to which variation in alpha diversity, beta diversity and species composition of ants, fruit-feeding butterflies, dung beetles and termites in relation to fragment size are congruent in the highly fragmented Brazilian Atlantic forest. Our results show generally low and inconsistent congruence, typically occurring for particular pairs of taxa only (such as butterflies and dung beetles for species composition, and ants and termites for Hill diversity-1D) or not at all (such as for species richness). In synthesis, there some universal community-level attributes and taxa (i.e., attributes responding consistently and congruently across taxa) have been proved to be sensitive in general. Vegetation structure and spatial location of fragments were not significant predictors of ant and termite species composition, but explained 21% and 40% of the variation in species composition of dung beetles and butterflies, respectively. In addition, we found no general increase in the ratio of generalists to specialists with decreasing fragment size. The overall lack of cross-taxon congruence means that a single taxon cannot provide a reliable indication of biotic responses to fragmentation in our study system. This can be explained by taxon-specific responses to variation in tree diversity, tree functional attributes and the spatial location of fragments. Our study therefore provides support for a multi-taxon approach to biodiversity monitoring and conservation planning.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)523-530
    Number of pages8
    JournalEcological Indicators
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


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