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Multi-species richness of boreal agricultural landscapes: effects of climate, biotope, soil and geographical location

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Abstract Aim 

To assess the relative importance of climate, biotope and soil variables as well as geographical location for the species richness of plants, butterflies, day-active macromoths and wild bees in boreal agricultural landscapes. Location 

A total of 68 agricultural landscapes located in southern Finland. Methods 

Generalized linear mixed models were used to analyse the effects of environmental (climate, biotope and soil) and spatial (latitude and longitude) variables on species richness of four taxa in 136 study squares of 0.25 km2. Using partial regression, the variation in species richness was decomposed into the purely environmental fraction; the spatially structured environmental fraction; and the purely spatial fraction, including variables retained in cubic trend surface regression. Results 

Species richness of all taxa was positively correlated with temperature. Species richness of plants and butterflies was also positively correlated with the heterogeneity of landscape. The extent of low-intensity agricultural land and forest had a positive effect, and the extent of cultivated field a negative effect on the species richness of these taxa. The effect of soil characteristics on the number of observed species was negligible for all taxa. The greatest part of the explained variation for all taxa was accounted for by the pure effect of geographical location. To a somewhat lesser extent, the species richness of plants, butterflies and bees was also related to the effects of spatially structured environmental variables, and the species richness of macromoths to the effects of environmental variables. Main conclusions 

Multi-species richness of boreal agricultural landscapes at the scale of 0.25 km2 was associated with the heterogeneity of the local landscape. However, large-scale geographical variation in species richness was also observed, which indicates the importance of climate and geographical location for the taxa studied. These results highlight the fact that, even on a landscape scale, geographical factors should be taken into account in biodiversity studies. Heterogeneous agricultural landscapes, including forest and non-crop biotopes, should be preserved or restored to maintain biodiversity.
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Keywords: Agriculture; butterflies; generalized linear mixed models; landscape; modelling; moths; partial regression; plants; species richness; wild bees

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Research Programme for Biodiversity, Research Department, Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland 2: Department of Applied Biology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: May 1, 2006

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