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Arthropod community structure in pastures of an island archipelago (Azores): looking for local–regional species richness patterns at fine-scales

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2007

P.A.V. Borges*
Affiliation:
Department of Biology and NERC Centre for Population Biology, Ascot, Berks SL5 7PY, UK
V.K. Brown
Affiliation:
Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, Department of Agriculture, University of Reading, Earley Gate, PO Box 237, Reading RG6 6AR, UK
*
*Present address: Universidade dos Açores, Dep. de Ciências Agrárias, Terra-Chã, 9700-851 Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira, Açores, Portugal Fax: 00 351 295 402205 E-mail: pborges@angra.uac.pt

Abstract

The arthropod species richness of pastures in three Azorean islands was used to examine the relationship between local and regional species richness over two years. Two groups of arthropods, spiders and sucking insects, representing two functionally different but common groups of pasture invertebrates were investigated. The local–regional species richness relationship was assessed over relatively fine scales: quadrats (= local scale) and within pastures (= regional scale). Mean plot species richness was used as a measure of local species richness (= α diversity) and regional species richness was estimated at the pasture level (= γ diversity) with the ‘first-order-Jackknife’ estimator. Three related issues were addressed: (i) the role of estimated regional species richness and variables operating at the local scale (vegetation structure and diversity) in determining local species richness; (ii) quantification of the relative contributions of α and β diversity to regional diversity using additive partitioning; and (iii) the occurrence of consistent patterns in different years by analysing independently between-year data. Species assemblages of spiders were saturated at the local scale (similar local species richness and increasing β-diversity in richer regions) and were more dependent on vegetational structure than regional species richness. Sucking insect herbivores, by contrast, exhibited a linear relationship between local and regional species richness, consistent with the proportional sampling model. The patterns were consistent between years. These results imply that for spiders local processes are important, with assemblages in a particular patch being constrained by habitat structure. In contrast, for sucking insects, local processes may be insignificant in structuring communities.

Type
Review Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2004

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