Landscape disturbance causes small-scale functional homogenization, but limited taxonomic homogenization, in plant communities

Authors

  • Jean-Claude Abadie,

    1. UMR 7204 MNHN-CNRS-UPMC, Conservation des Espèces, Restauration et Suivi des Populations, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, 61 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France
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  • Nathalie Machon,

    1. UMR 7204 MNHN-CNRS-UPMC, Conservation des Espèces, Restauration et Suivi des Populations, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, 61 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France
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  • Audrey Muratet,

    1. UMR 7204 MNHN-CNRS-UPMC, Conservation des Espèces, Restauration et Suivi des Populations, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, 61 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France
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  • Emmanuelle Porcher

    Corresponding author
      Correspondence author. E-mail: porcher@mnhn.fr
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Errata

This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Corrigendum Volume 101, Issue 3, 836, Article first published online: 2 November 2012

Correspondence author. E-mail: porcher@mnhn.fr

Summary

1. Biotic homogenization (BH), a dominant process shaping the response of natural communities to human disturbance, reflects both the expansion of exotic species at large scales and other mechanisms that often operate at smaller scales.

2. Here, we examined the relationship between BH in plant communities and spatio-temporal landscape disturbance (habitat fragmentation and surrounding habitat conversion) at a local scale (1 km²), using data from a standardized monitoring programme in France. We quantified BH using both a spatial partitioning of taxonomic diversity and the average habitat specialization of communities, which informs on functional BH.

3. We observed a positive relationship between local taxonomic diversity and landscape fragmentation or instability. This increase in local taxonomic diversity was, however, paralleled by a decrease in average community specialization in more fragmented landscapes and in more unstable landscapes around forest sites. The decrease in average community specialization suggests that landscape disturbance causes functional BH, but there was limited evidence for concurrent taxonomic BH.

4.Synthesis. Our results show that landscape disturbance is partly responsible for functional BH at small scales via the extirpation of specialist species, with possible consequences for ecosystem functioning. However, this change in community composition is not systematically associated with taxonomic BH. This has direct relevance in designing biodiversity indicators: metrics incorporating species sensitivity to disturbance (such as species specialization to habitat) appear much more reliable than taxonomic diversity for documenting the response of communities to disturbance.

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