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Trampling affects the distribution of specialised coastal dune arthropods
Bonte, D.; Maes, D. (2008). Trampling affects the distribution of specialised coastal dune arthropods. Basic appl. ecol. (Print) 9(6): 726-734.
In: Basic and Applied Ecology. Urban & Fischer/Urban and Fischer: Jena. ISSN 1439-1791; e-ISSN 1618-0089, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Araneae; Grazing; Grey dunes; Lepidoptera; Multispecies metapopulation;Orthoptera; Recreation; Trampling

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    From a conservation point of view, species’ tolerances towards disturbance are often generalised and lack reference to spatial scales and underlying processes. In order to investigate how average typical species react to habitat fragmentation and disturbance, we adopted a multi-species approach to address occupancy patterns of five specialised dune arthropods (butterflies Hipparchia semele, Issoria lathonia; grasshopper Oedipoda caerulescens; spiders Alopecosa fabrilis, Xysticus sabulosus) in recently fragmented coastal dune habitats which are subjected to varying levels and modes of local disturbance, i.e. trampling by cattle or people.Occupancy patterns were assessed during two successive years in 133 grey dune fragments of the Flemish coastal dunes (Belgium, France). By treating species as a random factor in our models, emphasis was placed on generalisations rather than documenting species-specific patterns.Our study demonstrates that deteriorating effects of local disturbance on arthropod incidence cannot be interpreted independent of its landscape context, and appear to be more severe when patch area and connectivity decrease. When controlled for patch area and trampling intensity, the probability of species occupancy in poorly connected patches is higher under cattle trampling than under recreation. Incidences additionally decrease with increasing intensity of cattle trampling, but increases with trampling by tourists.This study provides evidence of mode- and landscape-dependent effects of local disturbance on species occupancy patterns. Most importantly, it demonstrates that trampling of sensitive dune fragments will lead to local and metapopulation extinction in landscapes where trampling occurs in a spatially autocorrelated way, but that the outcome (spatial patterns) varies in relation to disturbance mode, indicating that effects of disturbance cannot be generalised.

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