Animal Populations in Fragmented Landscapes

Animal movement is often limited by the environment, especially in the current human-dominated landscapes where habitat is fragmented. Spatially constrained movement due to landscape fragmentation can reduce the distribution and abundance of animal species by the increase of extinction risk of local populations and the decrease of (re-)colonization possibilities, which largely affects species interactions in local communities.

In human-dominated landscapes, habitat of many organisms is fragmented with consequences for the population dynamics of these organisms. These organisms have to search for suitable places for reproduction, which may be difficult when distances between patches are large or when movement between patches is constrained. When their habitat is fragmented, selection of patches for reproduction is often not optimal as individuals cannot explore the whole landscape, resulting in unoccupied high quality patches when they are isolated and occupied low quality patches that are easy to reach (especially when population size is high).

I studied effects of fragmentation on connectivity and habitat selection in animal populations:

Van Langevelde, F. (2015) Modelling the negative effects of landscape fragmentation on habitat selection. Ecological Informatics 30:271–276 (PDF)

Van Langevelde, F. and C.J. Grashof-Bokdam (2011) Modelling the effect of intersections in linear habitat on spatial distribution and local population density. International Journal of Geographical Information Science 25:367–378 (PDF)

Grashof-Bokdam, C.J. and F. van Langevelde (2005) Green veining: landscape determinants of biodiversity in European agricultural landscapes. Landscape Ecology 20:417–439 (PDF)

For the European nuthatch (Sitta europaea):

Van Langevelde, F., G.D.H. Claassen and A.G.M. Schotman (2002) Two strategies for conservation planning in human-dominated landscapes. Landscape and Urban Planning 58:281–296 (PDF)

Van Langevelde, F. (2000) Scale of habitat connectivity and colonization in fragmented nuthatch populations. Ecography 23:614–622 (PDF)

Van Langevelde, F., A.G.M. Schotman, G.D.H. Claassen and G.A. Sparenburg (2000) Competing land uses in the reserve site selection problem. Landscape Ecology 15:243–256 (PDF)

Van Langevelde, F., W.G.M. van der Knaap and G.D.H. Claassen (1998) Comparing connectivity in landscape networks. Environment and Planning B 25:849–863 (PDF)

For the scarce large blue butterfly (Maculinea (Phengaris) teleius) and dusky large blue butterflies (Maculinea (Phengaris) nausithous), studied together with Irma Wynhoff:

Wynhoff, I., R.B. Bakker, B. Oteman, P.S. Arnaldo and F. van Langevelde (2015) Phengaris (Maculinea) alcon butterflies deposit their eggs on tall plants with many large buds in the vicinity of Myrmica ants. Insect Conservation and Diversity 8:177–188 (PDF)

Arnaldo, P.S., D. Gonzalez, I. Oliveira, F. van Langevelde and I. Wynhoff (2014) Influence of host plant phenology and oviposition date on the oviposition pattern and offspring performance of the butterfly Phengaris alcon. Journal of Insect Conservation 18:1115–1122 (PDF)

Jansen, S.H.D.R., M. Holmgren, F. van Langevelde and I. Wynhoff (2012) Resource use of specialist butterflies in agricultural landscapes: conservation lessons from the butterfly Phengaris (Maculinea) nausithous. Journal of Insect Conservation 16:921–930 (PDF)

Van Langevelde, F. and I. Wynhoff (2009) What limits the spread of two congeneric butterfly species after their reintroduction: quality or spatial arrangement of habitat? Animal Conservation 12:540–548 (PDF)

Wynhoff, I., M. Grutters and F. van Langevelde (2008) Looking for the ants: selection of oviposition sites by two myrmecophilous butterfly species. Animal Biology 58:371–388 (PDF)

Disturbances play a great role in ecosystem functioning and, with the increasing anthropogenic activities, they have more and more influence on ecosystems. They have been studied for several decades but recovery, the ecological phenomenon following a disturbance, has seldom been the focus of research.

Together with Vincent Comor (one of my former PhD students), Maddy Thakur (one of my former MSc students) and Matty Berg I studied the impact of disturbances on the structure of soil and litter fauna communities  and their ensuing recovery in varying environmental conditions, combined with the effect of productivity, life-history traits and community structure. The aim is to determine the main factors involved in recovery, how to improve recovery of ecosystems and how to make better predictions on recovery:

Thakur, M.P., M.P. Berg, N. Eisenhauer and F. van Langevelde (2014) Disturbance–diversity relationships for soil fauna are explained by faunal community biomass in a salt marsh. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 78:30–37 (PDF)

Comor, V., M.P. Thakur, M.P. Berg, S. de Bie, H.H.T. Prins and F. van Langevelde (2014) Productivity affects the density – body mass relationship of soil fauna communities. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 72:203-211 (PDF)

In the Netherlands, a single population of the obligate myrmecophilic butterfly Maculinea (Phengaris) teleius occurs on only three ha of habitat for more than 25 years now. Recently, 170 ha of farmland is being restored to wet meadows within a LIFE+ project ‘Blues in the marshes‘ by large-scale soil excavation. For successful restoration, the habitat requirements of the butterfly, with Sanguisorba officinalis as host plant and its particular life cycle as parasite of the ant species Myrmica scabrinodis, have to be taken into account. We tested whether colonization of nests of this ant species in the restoration areas is facilitated by translocation of sods collected from fen meadows:

Wynhoff, I., A.M. Kolvoort, C.F. Bassignana, M.P. Berg and F. van Langevelde (accepted) Fen meadows on the move for the conservation of Maculinea (Phengaris) teleius butterflies. Journal of Insect Conservation

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