CIE Spotlight: Plantations, not farmlands, cause biotic homogenisation of ground-active beetles in south-eastern Australia

Nicholas P.
Nicholas P.

Title: Plantations, not farmlands, cause biotic homogenisation of ground-active beetles in south-eastern Australia

Authors: Sweaney, Nicole; Driscoll, Don A.; Lindenmayer, D. B.; Porch, Nicholas

Source: BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION, 186 1-11, JUN 2015

Brief summary of the paper: Following landscape change, species invasions and extinctions may lead to biotic homogenisation, resulting in increased taxonomic and functional similarity between previously distinct biotas. Biotic homogenisation is more likely to occur in landscapes where the matrix contrasts strongly with native vegetation patches.

To test this, we examined the distribution of ground-active beetles in a landscape of remnant Eucalyptus open woodland patches where large areas of lower contrast matrix (farmland) are being transformed to high-contrast pine plantations in south-eastern Australia.

We sampled beetles from 30 sites including six replicates of five categories; (1) remnants adjacent to farmland, (2) remnants adjacent to plantation, (3) farmland, (4) plantation, and, (5) remnants between pine plantation andfarmland.

Community composition in the pine matrix was similar to native patches embedded in pine (ANOSIM, Global R = 0.49, P < 0.000), which we suggest is due to biotic homogenisation. Remnant patches with edges of both farmland and pine plantation did not represent an intermediate community composition between patches surrounded by either matrix type, but rather a unique habitat with unique species. Farmland supported the greatest number of individuals (F = 9.049, df = 25, P < 0.000) and species (F = 5.875, df = 25, P = 0.002), even compared to native remnant patches.

Our results suggest that matrix transformations can reduce species richness and homogenise within-patch populations. This may increase the risk of species declines in fragmented landscapes where plantations are not only replacing native vegetation patches, but also other matrix types that may better support biodiversity.

Our findings are particularly concerning given expanding plantation establishment worldwide.y concerning given expanding plantation establishment worldwide.