Get access
Advertisement

Butterfly diversity at the ecotone between agricultural and semi-natural habitats across a climatic gradient

Authors

  • Guy Pe’er,

    Corresponding author
    1. The Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, The Silberman Institute of Life Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 91904 Jerusalem, Israel
    2. Biodiversity Conservation Lab, Department of Environment, University of the Aegean, GR-81100 Mytilini, Greece
      Guy Pe’er, Department of Conservation Biology, UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Permoserstr. 15, Leipzig 04318, Germany.
      Email: guy.peer@ufz.de
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Catharine van Maanen,

    1. The Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, The Silberman Institute of Life Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 91904 Jerusalem, Israel
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Present address: Breitkopfstr. 16, 04318 Leipzig, Germany.

  • Anne Turbé,

    1. The Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, The Silberman Institute of Life Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 91904 Jerusalem, Israel
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Present address: BIO Intelligence Service, 20-22 Villa Deshayes, 75014 Paris, France.

  • Yiannis G. Matsinos,

    1. Biodiversity Conservation Lab, Department of Environment, University of the Aegean, GR-81100 Mytilini, Greece
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Salit Kark

    1. The Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, The Silberman Institute of Life Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 91904 Jerusalem, Israel
    Search for more papers by this author

Guy Pe’er, Department of Conservation Biology, UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Permoserstr. 15, Leipzig 04318, Germany.
Email: guy.peer@ufz.de

Abstract

Aim  Understanding the response of species to ecotones and habitat edges is essential to designing conservation management, especially in mosaic agricultural landscapes. This study examines how species diversity and composition change with distance from semi-natural habitats, over ecotones into agricultural fields, and how within-site patterns of community transition change across a climatic gradient and differ between crop types.

Location  A total of 19 sites in Israel where semi-natural habitats border agricultural fields (wheat fields or olive groves) distributed along a sharp climatic gradient ranging between 100 and 800 mm mean annual rainfall.

Methods  We performed butterfly surveys in 2006. We analysed species richness (α-diversity), diversity, community nestedness and species turnover (β-diversity) within sites and between sites (γ-diversity). We also assessed where species of conservation concern occurred.

Results  In wheat sites, richness and diversity declined abruptly from ecotones to fields and remained homogenously poor throughout the fields, regardless of climate. In olive sites, despite the sharp structural boundary, richness and diversity remained high from the semi-natural habitat to the grove margins and then declined gradually into groves. Species of conservation concern occurred across all habitats at olive sites, but none were found inside wheat fields or at their ecotones. The contrast in community structure between semi-natural habitats and fields was affected by both climate and field type. Irrigation in arid regions did not augment species diversity.

Main conclusions  Our results indicate that consideration of crop type, within a climatic context, should receive high priority in biodiversity conservation in agricultural areas. In ‘hostile’ crops, such as wheat, we suggest favouring a combination of high-intensity management and wide margins over less intensive management without margins, which may merely aid generalist butterfly species. The scarcity of butterflies in arid irrigated fields suggests a need to carefully assess the effects of irrigation and agrochemicals on species’ communities.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary