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The relative influence of different landscape attributes on dung beetle communities in the Brazilian Atlantic forest

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Article number106534
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/10/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Ecological Indicators
Volume117
Number of pages11
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date26/05/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Land-use change is considered the greatest threat to biodiversity worldwide. As such, identifying the drivers that shape biological communities is crucial for enhancing conservation strategies in human-modified tropical landscapes. We used a hybrid patch-landscape design and a multi model inference approach to assess the relative impacts of forest loss, increased edge density and increased pasture cover on dung beetle functional groups in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest – a biodiversity hotspot. Our findings provide novel empirical evidence showing that edge density can be a major driver for dung beetles when compared to forest and pasture cover at the landscape scale. However, forest and pasture cover also influenced some dung beetle responses, supporting the idea that biological communities are negatively affected by habitat loss and changes in land cover. We found that dung beetle body size, protibia area and metatibia length were all larger in landscapes with increased edge density, reinforcing the need for further studies exploring which mechanisms could favour the presence of larger dung beetles in fragmented tropical landscapes. Taken together, these results suggest the need of conservation and management strategies focused on the protection of the remaining Atlantic Forest fragments, and the promotion of forest recovery and reduction in the pasture cover and edge density at the landscape-level.