Building on Margalef: Testing the links between landscape structure, energy and information flows driven by farming and biodiversity

Marull J., Herrando S., Brotons L., Melero Y., Pino J., Cattaneo C., Pons M., Llobet J., Tello E. (2019) Building on Margalef: Testing the links between landscape structure, energy and information flows driven by farming and biodiversity. Science of the Total Environment. 674: 603-614.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.129

Resum:

The aim of this paper is to test two methodologies, applicable to different spatial scales (from regional to local), to predict the capacity of agroecosystems to provide habitats for the species richness of butterflies and birds, based on the ways their socio-metabolic flows change the ecological functionality of bio-cultural landscapes. First, we use the more general Intermediate Disturbance-Complexity (IDC) model to assess how different levels of human appropriation of photosynthetic production affect the landscape functional structure that hosts biodiversity. Second, we apply a more detailed Energy-Landscape Integrated Analysis (ELIA) model that focusses on the energy storage carried out by the internal biomass loops, and the energy information held in the network of energy flows driven by farmers, in order to correlate both (the energy reinvested and redistributed) with the energy imprinted in the landscape patterns and processes that sustain biodiversity. The results obtained after applying both models in the province and the metropolitan region of Barcelona support the Margalef's energy-information-structure hypothesis by showing positive relations between butterflies' species richness, IDC and ELIA, and between birds' species richness and energy information. Our findings support the view that strong relationships between farming energy flows, agroecosystem functioning and biodiversity can be detected, and highlight the importance of farmers' knowledge and labour to maintain bio-cultural landscapes. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.

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General declines in Mediterranean butterflies over the last two decades are modulated by species traits

Melero Y., Stefanescu C., Pino J. (2016) General declines in Mediterranean butterflies over the last two decades are modulated by species traits. Biological Conservation. 201: 336-342.
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Doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2016.07.029

Resum:

Species' responses to environmental changes are highly idiosyncratic and context-dependent. Although intrinsic traits (i.e. those that define species niches) may play a key role, little empirical evidence exists regarding their relationship to demographic responses. We used data for 66 butterfly species representing five ecological and two life-history traits to study the effect these factors have on population growth rates and variations in populations. Using a novel methodological approach, we provide here improved estimates of population change. Our results reveal declines in 70% and increases in 23% of the studied species, clear evidence of more serious population declines in Catalan butterflies than those that have previously been reported. Declines were associated with species' degree of habitat specialisation and the number of generations. For all species, fluctuations were greater within than between years and, on average, the latter was 1.5 times greater. Our results indicated that habitat specialists and multivoltine species are more likely to suffer severe annual fluctuations in population abundance; and that multivoltine species and extreme larval specialists had the most marked fluctuations within seasons. We also found higher resilience to environmental changes in generalist species, which is concordant with biotic homogenisation in disturbed communities. However, among the declining species there were also many generalists, which indicates a potential general reduction in this group that goes beyond faunal homogenisation. Given butterflies are biodiversity indicators, these patterns are a possible reflection of an overall impoverishment in biodiversity. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd

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