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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Species diversity and persistence in restored and remnant tallgrass prairies of North America: a function of species’ life history, habitat type, or sampling bias?
Year: 2008
Author(s): Summerville, K. S.
Source Title: Journal of Animal Ecology
Source Type: Journal
pages: 487-494
Original Publication: http://  
Abstract: The re-assembly of native animal communities in restored landscapes is a relatively unexplored phenomenon for many taxa. Specifically, ecologists lack the ability to generalize about how species traits, habitat size, habitat type (here, remnant prairie vs. restored grassland), and temporal variation interact to affect species diversity or species’ persistence probabilities. To investigate these relationships, moth communities from 10 prairie remnants and restorations were sampled over a 3-year interval and a combination of NMDS ordination, logistic regression, and repeated measures anova were used to test hypotheses regarding how life history variables and habitat characteristics determine the degree to which restored habitats develop a moth fauna similar to remnants. Within sampling years, restored tallgrass prairies that were >= 7 years old possessed lepidopteran species assemblages that were generally similar to those in prairie remnants. Community similarity, however, was driven by common moth species likely to also occur in the surrounding agricultural habitat. Species persistence was significantly influenced by a series of trait combinations identified using principal components analysis. Temporal variation independent of habitat type or patch size was the most significant determination of variation in species composition among sites. These results suggest that lepidopteran persistence in restored landscapes is at least partially determined by species’ life history attributes. The correlation between sampling year and species richness suggests that both weather effects on species voltinism and interannual differences in sampling bias may make it difficult for land managers to detect changes in species abundance following disturbance or habitat management. Species may not necessarily possess specific life history traits that reduce extinction risk or enhance recolonization probabilities in the highly modified agricultural landscape of the Midwestern USA. Rather, voltinism, fecundity, body size, and host plant specialization may influence the ability of species to maintain populations in the greater agricultural landscape or to escape mass mortality following disturbances imposed by prairie management.