© Marcel Burkhardt
Pasinelli, G., K. Meichtry-Stier, S. Birrer, B. Baur & M. Duss (2013)
Habitat Quality and Geometry Affect Patch Occupancy of Two Orthopteran Species.
PLoS ONE 8 (5): e65850
Impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation on distribution and population size of many taxa are well established. In contrast, less is known about the role of within-patch habitat quality for the spatial dynamics of species, even though within-patch habitat quality may substantially influence the dynamics of population networks. We studied occurrence patterns of two Orthopteran species in relation to size, isolation and quality of habitat patches in an intensively managed agricultural landscape (16.65 km2) in the Swiss lowland. Occurrence of field crickets (Gryllus campestris) was positively related to patch size and negatively to the distance to the nearest occupied patch, two measures of patch geometry. Moreover, field crickets were more likely to occur in extensively managed meadows, meadows used at low intensity and meadows dominated by Poa pratensis, three measures of patch quality. Occurrence of the large gold grasshopper (Chrysochraon dispar) was negatively related to two measures of patch geometry, distance to the nearest occupied patch and perimeter index (ratio of perimeter length to patch area). Further, large gold grasshoppers were more likely to occupy patches close to water and patches with vegetation left uncut over winter, two measures of patch quality. Finally, examination of patch occupancy dynamics of field crickets revealed that patches colonized in 2009 and patches occupied in both 2005 and 2009 were larger, better connected and of other quality than patches remaining unoccupied and patches from which the species disappeared. The strong relationships between Orthopteran occurrence and aspects of patch geometry found in this study support the ‘‘area-and-isolation paradigm’’. Additionally, our study reveals the importance of patch quality for occurrence patterns of both species, and for patch occupancy dynamics in the field cricket. An increased understanding of patch occupancy patterns may be gained if inference is based on variables related to both habitat geometry and quality.