Intensification of agricultural landscapes represent a major threat for biodiversity conservation also affecting several ecosystem services. The natural and semi-natural remnants, available in the agricultural matrix, represent important sites for small mammals and rodents, which are fundamental for sustaining various ecosystem functions and trophic chains. We studied the populations of two small mammals (Apodemus agrarius, A. sylvaticus) to evaluate the effects of landscape and habitat features on species abundance along a gradient of agricultural landscape intensification. The study was performed in Friuli Venezia Giulia (north-eastern Italy) during 19 months, in 19 wood remnants. Species abundance was determined using Capture-Mark-Recapture (CMR) techniques. In the same plots, main ecological parameters of the habitat (at microhabitat and patch scale) and landscape were considered. Abundance of A. agrarius increased in landscapes with high extent of permanent crops (i.e., orchards and poplar plantations) and low content of undecomposed litter in the wood understory. Instead, A. sylvaticus, a more generalist species, showed an opposite, albeit less strong, relationship with the same variables. Both species were not affected by any landscape structural feature (e.g., patch shape, isolation). Our findings showed that microhabitat features and landscape composition rather than wood and landscape structure affect populations' abundance and species interaction. The opposite response of the two study species was probably because of their specific ecological requirements. In this light, conservation management of agricultural landscapes should consider the ecological needs of species at both landscape and habitat levels, by rebalancing composition patterns in the context of ecological intensification, and promoting a sustainable forest patch management.

Landscape and microhabitat features determine small mammal abundance in forest patches in agricultural landscapes

Boscutti F.;Sigura M.
2021-01-01

Abstract

Intensification of agricultural landscapes represent a major threat for biodiversity conservation also affecting several ecosystem services. The natural and semi-natural remnants, available in the agricultural matrix, represent important sites for small mammals and rodents, which are fundamental for sustaining various ecosystem functions and trophic chains. We studied the populations of two small mammals (Apodemus agrarius, A. sylvaticus) to evaluate the effects of landscape and habitat features on species abundance along a gradient of agricultural landscape intensification. The study was performed in Friuli Venezia Giulia (north-eastern Italy) during 19 months, in 19 wood remnants. Species abundance was determined using Capture-Mark-Recapture (CMR) techniques. In the same plots, main ecological parameters of the habitat (at microhabitat and patch scale) and landscape were considered. Abundance of A. agrarius increased in landscapes with high extent of permanent crops (i.e., orchards and poplar plantations) and low content of undecomposed litter in the wood understory. Instead, A. sylvaticus, a more generalist species, showed an opposite, albeit less strong, relationship with the same variables. Both species were not affected by any landscape structural feature (e.g., patch shape, isolation). Our findings showed that microhabitat features and landscape composition rather than wood and landscape structure affect populations' abundance and species interaction. The opposite response of the two study species was probably because of their specific ecological requirements. In this light, conservation management of agricultural landscapes should consider the ecological needs of species at both landscape and habitat levels, by rebalancing composition patterns in the context of ecological intensification, and promoting a sustainable forest patch management.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
peerj-12306.pdf

accesso aperto

Descrizione: Articolo principale
Tipologia: Versione Editoriale (PDF)
Licenza: Creative commons
Dimensione 290.02 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
290.02 kB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11390/1217432
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 2
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact