Edge effects in tropical dry forests of Madagascar: additivity or synergy?
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Context: The study of habitat fragmentation is complex because multiple, potentially synergistic, ecological processes may be acting simultaneously. Further, edge effects themselves may be complex in that additivity from multiple edges can give rise to heterogeneous nearest–edge gradients. Objectives: We used heat diffusion as a proxy for additive edge effects in two study landscapes in order to test whether two key observations recently attributed to synergy between edge and area effects could be more simply explained by additivity; namely, steeper edge gradients in larger fragments and variation in slopes of species–area relationships as a function of distances to fragment edges. Methods: We sampled forest structure in northwestern Madagascar at various distances from the edge in fragments and continuous forest and used an inverse modelling approach to parameterize the model. In addition, we applied the model to data from a published study of beetle communities in fragmented forests in New Zealand. Results: With increasing proximity to edges, woody stem densities decreased and, as predicted, smaller fragments had lower stem densities and less steep edge gradients than larger ones. The model successfully predicted shifts in species–area relationships as a function of nearest–edge distances for beetle species, although observed richness for forest specialists in the smallest fragments was lower than predicted. Conclusions: Two key observations attributed to synergy between edge and area effects were explained by edge additivity. The model is particularly useful in that it can help to disentangle the complex sets of processes acting in fragmented landscapes.
Malcolm, JR; Valenta, K; Lehman, SM
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