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Functional richness of local hoverfly communities (Diptera, Syrphidae) in response to land use across temperate Europe


  • Oliver Schweiger,

  • Martin Musche,

  • Debra Bailey,

  • Regula Billeter,

  • Tim Diekötter,

  • Frederik Hendrickx,

  • Felix Herzog,

  • Jaan Liira,

  • Jean-Pierre Maelfait,

  • Marjan Speelmans,

  • Frank Dziock

O. Schweiger ( and M. Musche, UFZ – Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Dept of Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, DE-06210 Halle, Germany. – D. Bailey and F. Herzog, Agroscope FAL Reckenholz, Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture, Reckenholzstrasse 191, CH-8046 Zurich, Switzerland. – R. Billeter, ETH Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Geobotanical Inst., Zürichbergstr. 38, CH-8044 Zurich, Switzerland. – T. Diekötter, IFZ-Dept of Animal Ecology, Justus Liebig Univ., Heinrich-Buff-Ring 26-32, DE-35392 Giessen, Germany. – F. Hendrickx, P. Maelfait and M. Speelmans, Terrestrial Ecology Unit (TEREC), Dept Biology, Ghent Univ., K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, BE-9000 Gent, Belgium. – J. Liira, Inst. of Botany and Ecology, Univ. of Tartu, Lai 40, Tartu, EE-51005, Estonia. – F. Dziock, Technical Univ. Berlin, Biodiversity Dynamics in Terrestrial Ecosystems, Rothenburgstr. 12, DE-12165 Berlin, Germany.


Environmental change is not likely to act on biodiversity in a random manner, but rather according to species traits that affect assembly processes, thus, having potentially serious consequences on ecological functions. We investigated the effects of anthropogenic land use on functional richness of local hoverfly communities of 24 agricultural landscapes across temperate Europe. A multivariate ordination separated seven functional groups based on resource use, niche characteristics and response type. Intensive land use reduced functional richness, but each functional group responded in a unique way. Species richness of generalist groups was nearly unaffected. Local habitat quality mainly affected specialist groups, while land use affected intermediate groups of rather common species. We infer that high species richness within functional groups alone is no guarantee for maintaining functional richness. Thus, it is not species richness per se that improves insurance of functional diversity against environmental pressures but the degree of dissimilarity within each functional group.