Connectivity and propagule sources composition drive ditch plant metacommunity structure

Abstract : The fragmentation of agricultural landscapes has a major impact on biodiversity. In addition to habitat loss, dispersal limitation increasingly appears as a significant driver of biodiversity decline. Landscape linear elements, like ditches, may reduce the negative impacts of fragmentation by enhancing connectivity for many organisms, in addition to providing refuge habitats. To characterize these effects, we investigated the respective roles of propagule source composition and connectivity at the landscape scale on hydrochorous and non-hydrochorous ditch bank plant metacommunities. Twenty-seven square sites (0.5 km2 each) were selected in an agricultural lowland of northern France. At each site, plant communities were sampled on nine ditch banks (totaling 243 ditches). Variables characterizing propagule sources composition and connectivity were calculated for landscape mosaic and ditch network models. The landscape mosaic influenced only non-hydrochorous species, while the ditch network impacted both hydrochorous and non-hydrochorous species. Non-hydrochorous metacommunities were dependent ona large set of land-use elements, either within the landscape mosaic or adjacent to the ditch network, whereas hydrochorous plant metacommunities were only impacted by the presence of ditches adjacent to crops and roads. Ditch network connectivity also influenced both hydrochorous and nonhydrochorous ditch bank plant metacommunity structure, suggesting that beyond favoring hydrochory, ditches may also enhance plant dispersal by acting on other dispersal vectors. Increasing propagule sources heterogeneity and connectivity appeared to decrease within-metacommunity similarity within landscapes. Altogether, our results suggest that the ditch network's composition and configuration impacts plant metacommunity structure by affecting propagule dispersal possibilities, with contrasted consequences depending on species' dispersal vectors.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 6:20:14 PM
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Lisa Favre-Bac, Aude Ernoult, Cendrine Mony, Yann Rantier, Jean Nabucet, et al.. Connectivity and propagule sources composition drive ditch plant metacommunity structure. Acta Oecologica, Elsevier, 2014, 61, pp.57-64. ⟨10.1016/j.actao.2014.10.006⟩. ⟨hal-01090617⟩

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