Edge responses are different in edges under natural versus anthropogenic influence: a meta‐analysis using ground beetles

Magura, T., Lövei, G.L. & Tóthmérész, B. (2017) Edge responses are different in edges under natural versus anthropogenic influence: a meta-analysis using ground beetles.

Ecology and Evolution, 7(3), 1009-1017. DOI:10.1002/ece3.2722 (IF2016 2,440; Q2 Ecology) NON-GBA affiliated
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  • Dec, 2017


Most edges are anthropogenic in origin, but are distinguishable by their maintaining processes (natural vs. continued anthropogenic interventions: forestry, agriculture, urbanization). We hypothesized that the dissimilar edge histories will be reflected in the diversity and assemblage composition of inhabitants. Testing this “history‐based edge effect” hypothesis, we evaluated published information on a common insect group, ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) in forest edges. A meta‐analysis showed that the diversity‐enhancing properties of edges significantly differed according to their history. Forest edges maintained by natural processes had significantly higher species richness than their interiors, while edges with continued anthropogenic influence did not. The filter function of edges was also essentially different depending on their history. For forest specialist species, edges maintained by natural processes were penetrable, allowing these species to move right through the edges, while edges still under anthropogenic interventions were impenetrable, preventing the dispersal of forest specialists out of the forest. For species inhabiting the surrounding matrix (open‐habitat and generalist species), edges created by forestry activities were penetrable, and such species also invaded the forest interior. However, natural forest edges constituted a barrier and prevented the invasion of matrix species into the forest interior. Preserving and protecting all edges maintained by natural processes, and preventing anthropogenic changes to their structure, composition, and characteristics are key factors to sustain biodiversity in forests. Moreover, the increasing presence of anthropogenic edges in a landscape is to be avoided, as they contribute to the loss of biodiversity. Simultaneously, edges under continued anthropogenic disturbance should be restored by increasing habitat heterogeneity.