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Hedgerows support rich communities of harvestmen (Opiliones) in upland agricultural landscape

Basic and Applied Ecology

Abstract

Hedgerows play important roles in agricultural landscapes and they increase biodiversity by providing habitat refugia for species sensitive to agricultural disturbance. We have studied the characteristics of the communities of harvestmen (Opiliones) inhabiting hedgerows. Harvestmen are terrestrial arachnids associated with soil surface and subsurface and sensitive to landuse and disturbance. We were specifically interested in quantifying how hedgerow characteristics (e.g., elevation, length, width, connectivity, and plant diversity) affect harvestman diversity and community composition. We expected harvestman diversity and community composition to be positively related to both hedgerow size (area, length, width) and biological attributes of hedgerows (e.g., connectivity, plant community diversity). We surveyed hedgerow characteristics and harvestman communities of 20 hedgerows in an upland agricultural landscape in the Western Carpathians. Hedgerow characteristics were measured in the field or derived from GIS layers and we used correlation and ordination methods to relate them to harvestman community metrics. We found surprisingly high taxonomic richness of harvestmen within the studied hedgerows (15 species). Importantly, the Shannon index of harvestman communities was positively related to hedgerow length and hedgerow tree layer species richness and diversity. Harvestman community composition varied with hedgerow area and width. Despite their small total area, hedgerows represented an important habitat for diverse harvestman communities and hedgerow attributes such as size and tree diversity significantly affected the composition and the Shannon index of harvestman communities. Thus, greater lengths and widths of hedgerows can provide habitats for a higher Shannon index of harvestman communities, within surrounding agricultural landscapes. (C) 2020 Gesellschaft fiir Okologie. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Author(s): Stasiov, S; Diviakova, A; Svitok, M; Novikmec, M; Dovciak, M

Journal: Basic and Applied Ecology

Year: 2020

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