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BIODIVERSITY RESEARCH: Diversity and distribution of macroinvertebrates in lentic habitats in massively altered landscapes in south-eastern Australia

Authors


Correspondence: Ralph Mac Nally, Australian Centre for Biodiversity, School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Vic. 3800, Australia.
E-mail: Ralph.MacNally@monash.edu

Abstract

Aim  We investigated whether faunas of lentic macroinvertebrates differed among two landscape types: (1) those that are largely covered in forests (presumed to be in a more pre-human-impact condition) and (2) those that are completely cleared for agricultural exploitation (massively altered).

Location  Five pairs of landscapes (each pair referred to as a region) – one of each landscape type – across a 30,000 km2 region of north-central Victoria, Australia.

Methods  Each individual waterbody was surveyed three times (austral spring 2006, autumn 2007, and spring 2007) for invertebrates. Waterbodies were characterized by measurements of static (e.g. abutting vegetation cover) and labile (e.g. pH) variables. Data were analysed using hierarchical Bayesian models of species richness, α- and β-diversities and functional feeding groups. Assemblage composition was related to landscape and in-waterbody characteristics.

Results  Neither measured, nor asymptotic estimates of, species richness differed among landscape types, notwithstanding consistent differences in in-waterbody habitat characteristics among waterbodies in the two landscape types. There were no discernible differences in patterns of α- and β-diversities at landscape scales relating to landscape type. Habitat diversity of waterbodies at the landscape scale did not affect β-diversity, although distinct waterbodies within landscapes tended to have more distinct faunas.

Main conclusions  The lentic macroinvertebrate faunas are relatively homogeneous over the entire region, with little differentiation between wooded and cleared landscapes. The regional fauna may be a homogenized subset of native species, possibly arising from the huge numerical predominance of lentic habitats in agricultural landscapes producing ‘spill-over’ effects into forested landscapes. Of taxa more frequently found in one or other landscape type, trophic group diversity was greater in forested landscapes.

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