Species mobility and landscape context determine the importance of local and landscape-level attributes:

Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor*, Kevin Watts, Nicholas A. Macgregor, Zeltia Lopez-Gallego, J. Kirsty Park

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Conservation strategies to tackle habitat loss and fragmentation require actions at the local (e.g., improving/expanding existing habitat patches) and landscape level (e.g., creating new habitat in the matrix). However, the relative importance of these actions for biodiversity is still poorly understood, leading to debate on how to prioritize conservation activities. Here, we assess the relative importance of local vs. landscape-level attributes in determining the use of woodlands by bats in fragmented landscapes; we also compare the role of habitat amount in the surrounding landscape per se vs. a combination of both habitat amount and configuration and explore whether the relative importance of these attributes varies with species mobility and landscape context. We conducted acoustic surveys in 102 woodland patches in the UK that form part of the WrEN project (www.wren-project.com), a large-scale natural experiment designed to study the effects of 160 yr of woodland creation on biodiversity and inform landscape-scale conservation. We used multivariate analysis and a model-selection approach to assess the relative importance of local (e.g., vegetation structure) and landscape-level (e.g., amount/configuration of surrounding land types) attributes on bat occurrence and activity levels. Species mobility was an important trait determining the relative importance of local vs. landscape-level attributes for different bat species. Lower mobility species were most strongly influenced by local habitat quality; the landscape became increasingly important for higher mobility species. At the landscape-scale, a combination of habitat amount and configuration appeared more important than habitat amount alone for lower mobility species, while the opposite was observed for higher mobility species. Regardless of species mobility, landscape-level attributes appeared more important for bats in a more homogeneous and intensively farmed landscape. Conservation strategies involving habitat creation and restoration should take into account the mobility of target species and prioritize landscape-level actions in more homogeneous and intensively farmed landscapes where habitat loss and fragmentation have been more severe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1541-1554
Number of pages14
JournalEcological Applications
Volume27
Issue number5
Early online date16 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - 5 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • bats
  • Chiroptera
  • connectivity
  • ecological networks
  • fragmentation
  • landscape-scale conservation
  • natural experiment
  • woodland creation
  • WrEN project

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    Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Watts, K., Macgregor, N. A., Lopez-Gallego, Z., & Park, J. K. (2017). Species mobility and landscape context determine the importance of local and landscape-level attributes: Ecological Applications, 27(5), 1541-1554. https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.1546