Following the recently finished EU LIFE project DROGONLIFE colleagues and I have published a study on the Yellow-spotted Whiteface Leucorrhinia pectoralis in Estonia. In the paper we show that the mikrohabitat niches of L. pectoralis derived directly from local distributions are significantly constrained by the land use history of a given landscape.
We recorded the presence/absence of L. pectoralis and measured 7 habitat variables for 140 lakes and ponds located in one restored and three un-restored landscapes in Estonia. Lake size and proportion of short riparian vegetation were significantly positive parameters determining the presence of L. pectoralis across landscape types. However, the species was much more habitat specific in the restored landscape, with larger influence of other habitat parameters. Our data suggest that the realized niche of the species in the un-restored landscapes was constrained by the present-day habitats.
The study demonstrate that if a species realized niche is derived from local species distributions without incorporating landscape history it can lead to an erroneous niche definition. We show that landscape restorations can provide knowledge on the species’ habitat dependencies before habitat degradations occurred, provided that restoration mitigation reflects the former landscape characteristics.
Iversen L.L., Rannap R., Briggs L. & Sand-Jensen K. (2015): Variable history of land use reduces the relationship to specific habitat requirements of a threatened aquatic insect. Population Ecology DOI: 10.1007/s10144-015-0516-z pdf pdf