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Habitat heterogeneity induces rapid changes in the feeding behaviour of generalist arthropod predators

Staudacher, Karin; Rennstam Rubbmark, Oskar; Birkhofer, Klaus LU ; Malsher, Gerard; Sint, Daniela; Jonsson, Mattias and Traugott, Michael (2018) In Functional Ecology
Abstract

The "habitat heterogeneity hypothesis" predicts positive effects of structural complexity on species coexistence. Increasing habitat heterogeneity can change the diversity (number of species, abundances) and the functional roles of communities. The latter, however, is not well understood as species and individuals may respond very differently and dynamically to a changing environment. Here, we experimentally test how habitat heterogeneity affects generalist arthropod predators, including epigaeic spiders, carabid and staphylinid beetles, under natural conditions by assessing their diversity and directly measuring their trophic interactions (which provide a proxy for their functional roles). The experiment was conducted in spring barley... (More)

The "habitat heterogeneity hypothesis" predicts positive effects of structural complexity on species coexistence. Increasing habitat heterogeneity can change the diversity (number of species, abundances) and the functional roles of communities. The latter, however, is not well understood as species and individuals may respond very differently and dynamically to a changing environment. Here, we experimentally test how habitat heterogeneity affects generalist arthropod predators, including epigaeic spiders, carabid and staphylinid beetles, under natural conditions by assessing their diversity and directly measuring their trophic interactions (which provide a proxy for their functional roles). The experiment was conducted in spring barley fields in Southern Sweden where habitat heterogeneity was manipulated by increasing within-field plant diversity. Increased habitat heterogeneity triggered rapid changes in the feeding behaviour of generalist predators characterized by lower trophic specialization at both network (H2', degree of interaction specialization in the entire network) and species level (d', degree of interaction specialization at the species level). We presume that this is because spatial separation resulted in relaxed competition and allowed an increased overlap in resources used among predator species. Predators collected from heterogenous habitats also showed greater individual-level dietary variability which might be ascribed to relaxed intraspecific competition. Our results provide conclusive evidence that habitat heterogeneity can induce rapid behavioural responses independent of changes in diversity, potentially promoting the stability of ecosystem functions. A plain language summary is available for this article.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
keywords
Food webs, Habitat complexity, Habitat microstructure, Molecular diet analysis, Specialization index, Trophic interactions
in
Functional Ecology
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • scopus:85040580615
ISSN
0269-8463
DOI
10.1111/1365-2435.13028
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
d28c883e-e5fd-4150-9e4f-61b3cf9322ca
date added to LUP
2018-01-30 14:47:53
date last changed
2018-01-30 14:47:53
@article{d28c883e-e5fd-4150-9e4f-61b3cf9322ca,
  abstract     = {<p>The "habitat heterogeneity hypothesis" predicts positive effects of structural complexity on species coexistence. Increasing habitat heterogeneity can change the diversity (number of species, abundances) and the functional roles of communities. The latter, however, is not well understood as species and individuals may respond very differently and dynamically to a changing environment. Here, we experimentally test how habitat heterogeneity affects generalist arthropod predators, including epigaeic spiders, carabid and staphylinid beetles, under natural conditions by assessing their diversity and directly measuring their trophic interactions (which provide a proxy for their functional roles). The experiment was conducted in spring barley fields in Southern Sweden where habitat heterogeneity was manipulated by increasing within-field plant diversity. Increased habitat heterogeneity triggered rapid changes in the feeding behaviour of generalist predators characterized by lower trophic specialization at both network (H<sub>2</sub>', degree of interaction specialization in the entire network) and species level (d', degree of interaction specialization at the species level). We presume that this is because spatial separation resulted in relaxed competition and allowed an increased overlap in resources used among predator species. Predators collected from heterogenous habitats also showed greater individual-level dietary variability which might be ascribed to relaxed intraspecific competition. Our results provide conclusive evidence that habitat heterogeneity can induce rapid behavioural responses independent of changes in diversity, potentially promoting the stability of ecosystem functions. A plain language summary is available for this article.</p>},
  author       = {Staudacher, Karin and Rennstam Rubbmark, Oskar and Birkhofer, Klaus and Malsher, Gerard and Sint, Daniela and Jonsson, Mattias and Traugott, Michael},
  issn         = {0269-8463},
  keyword      = {Food webs,Habitat complexity,Habitat microstructure,Molecular diet analysis,Specialization index,Trophic interactions},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {01},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Functional Ecology},
  title        = {Habitat heterogeneity induces rapid changes in the feeding behaviour of generalist arthropod predators},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13028},
  year         = {2018},
}