Aim We examined whether the community compositions of birds, lizards and small mammals were nested in a fragmented landscape in the Thousand Island Lake, China. We also assessed whether the mechanisms influencing nestedness differed among these taxonomic groups.
Location Thousand Island Lake, China.
Methods Presence/absence matrices were compiled for birds (42 islands) and lizards (42 islands) using line-transect methods, and for small mammals (14 islands) using live-trapping methods from 2006 to 2009. Nestedness was analysed using BINMATNEST, and statistical significance was assessed using the conservative null model 3. We used Spearman rank correlations and partial Spearman rank correlations to examine associations of nestedness and habitat variables (area, isolation, habitat diversity and plant richness) as well as life-history traits (body size, habitat specificity, geographical range size and area requirement) related to species extinction and immigration tendencies.
Results The community compositions of birds, lizards and small mammals were all significantly nested, but the causal factors underlying nestedness differed among taxonomic groups. For birds, island area, habitat specificity and area requirement were significantly correlated with nestedness after controlling for other independent variables. For lizards, habitat heterogeneity was the single best correlate of nestedness. For small mammals, island area, habitat heterogeneity and habitat specificity were significantly correlated with nestedness. The nested patterns of birds, lizards and small mammals were not attributable to passive sampling or selective colonization.
Main conclusions The processes influencing nested patterns differed among taxonomic groups. Nestedness of bird assemblages was driven by selective extinction, and lizard assemblage was caused by habitat nestedness, while nestedness of small mammals resulted from both selective extinction and habitat nestedness. Therefore, we should take taxonomic differences into account when analysing nestedness to develop conservation guidelines and refrain from using single taxa as surrogates for others.
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