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Title: Species traits, patch turnover and successional dynamics: when does intermediate disturbance favour metapopulation occupancy?
Authors: Mestre, Frederico
Pita, Ricardo
Mira, António
Beja, Pedro
Editors: Smith, Dylan
Keywords: Intermediate disturbance hypothesis
Incidence Function Model
Ecological simulation
Landscape fragmentation
Metapopulation occupancy
Virtual species
Issue Date: 3-Jan-2020
Publisher: BMC Ecology
Citation: Mestre F., Pita R., Mira A., Beja P. (2020). Species traits, patch turnover and successional dynamics: when does intermediate disturbance favour metapopulation occupancy? BMC Ecology 20, 2
Abstract: Background:In fragmented landscapes, natural and anthropogenic disturbances coupled with successional pro-cesses result in the destruction and creation of habitat patches. Disturbances are expected to reduce metapopulation occupancy for species associated with stable habitats, but they may benefit species adapted to transitory habitats by maintaining a dynamic mosaic of successional stages. However, while early-successional species may be favoured by very frequent disturbances resetting successional dynamics, metapopulation occupancy may be highest at interme-diate disturbance levels for species with mid-successional habitat preferences, though this may be conditional on species traits and patch network characteristics. Here we test this ‘intermediate disturbance hypothesis’ applied to metapopulations (MIDH), using stochastic patch occupancy simulation modelling to assess when does intermediate disturbance favour metapopulation occupancy. We focused on 54 virtual species varying in their habitat preferences, dispersal abilities and local extinction and colonization rates. Long-term metapopulation dynamics was estimated in landscapes with different habitat amounts and patch turnover rates (i.e. disturbance frequency).Results:Equilibrium metapopulation occupancy by late-successional species strongly declined with increasing disturbance frequency, while occupancy by early-successional species increased with disturbance frequency at low disturbance levels and tended to level-off thereafter. Occupancy by mid-successional species tended to increase along with disturbance frequency at low disturbance levels and declining thereafter. Irrespective of habitat prefer-ences, occupancy increased with the amount of habitat, and with species dispersal ability and colonisation efficiency.Conclusions:Our study suggests that MIDH is verified only for species associated with mid-successional habitats. These species may be particularly sensitive to land use changes causing either increases or decreases in disturbance frequency. This may be the case, for instance, of species associated with traditional agricultural and pastoral mosaic landscapes, where many species disappear either through intensification or abandonment processes that change disturbance frequency.
Type: article
Appears in Collections:MED - Publicações - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais Com Arbitragem Científica

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