Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023 OA / Dispersal capacity underlies scale-dependent changes in species richness patterns under human disturbance

Elena Piano, Dries Bonte, Luc De Meester, and Frederik Hendrickx (2023)

Dispersal capacity underlies scale-dependent changes in species richness patterns under human disturbance

Ecology, 104(3):e3946.

Changes in the species richness of (meta-)communities emerge from changes in the relative species abundance distribution (SAD), the total density of individuals, and the amount of spatial aggregation of individuals from the same species. Yet, how human disturbance affects these underlying diversity components at different spatial scales and how this interacts with important species traits, like dispersal capacity, remain poorly understood. Using data of carabid beetle communities along a highly replicated urbanization gradient, we reveal that species richness in urban sites was reduced due to a decline in individual density as well as changes in the SAD at both small and large spatial scales. Changes in these components of species richness were linked to differential responses of groups of species that differ in dispersal capacity. The individual density effect on species richness was due to a drastic 90% reduction of low-dispersal individuals in more urban sites. Conversely, the decrease in species richness due to changes in the SAD at large (i.e., loss of species from the regional pool) and small (i.e., decreased evenness) spatial scales were driven by species with intermediate and high dispersal ability, respectively. These patterns coincide with the expected responses of these dispersal-type assemblages toward human disturbance, namely, (i) loss of low-dispersal species by local extinction processes, (ii) loss of higher-dispersal species from the regional species pool due to decreased habitat diversity, and (iii) dominance of a few highly dispersive species resulting in a decreased evenness. Our results demonstrate that dispersal capacity plays an essential role in determining scale-dependent changes in species richness patterns. Incorporating this information improves our mechanistic insight into how environmental change affects species diversity at different spatial scales, allowing us to better forecast how human disturbance will drive local and regional changes in biodiversity patterns.
Peer Review, PDF available, International Redaction Board, Impact Factor