Special Issue "Effects of Human Disturbance on Ecological Communities"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Biodiversity Loss & Dynamics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 November 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. David Murrell
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research, University College London, London, UK
Interests: community ecology; dispersal; spatial structure; coexistence; ecological theory

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

The human species is highly invasive and an excellent ecosystem engineer, but how is it changing ecological communities that are responsible for the ecosystem services upon which the human population depends? This Special Issue will showcase exciting new research that breaks new ground for our understanding of how human disturbance (e.g., land use change, habitat fragmentation, pollution, invasive species, etc.) affects ecological communities. We welcome contributions that focus on how anthropogenically driven disturbance affects both (i) patterns such as species associations and other food web/community network properties and taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity, including species–area relationships, species abundance distributions and other macro-ecological patterns; and (ii) processes such as interspecific interactions, community assembly, and movement and behavioural responses in the context of communities. We aim to attract research across terrestrial, marine and freshwater habitats and encourage contributions that consider both single types of disturbance and multiple disturbances acting together. Finally, we especially encourage submissions that focus on both changes to ecological communities and consequences of these changes for the ecosystem services that they provide.

Dr. David Murrell
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Diversity is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Community ecology
  • Human disturbance
  • Ecological patterns
  • Ecological processes
  • Community assembly
  • Interaction networks
  • Functional diversity
  • Taxonomic diversity
  • Phylogenetic diversity
  • Multiple stressors
  • Ecosystem services

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Exurbia East and West: Responses of Bird Communities to Low Density Residential Development in Two North American Regions
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020042 - 22 Jan 2021
Viewed by 541
Abstract
Exurban development is a prevalent cause of habitat loss and alteration throughout the globe and is a common land-use pattern in areas of high natural amenity value. We investigated the response of bird communities to exurban development in two contrasting North American regions, [...] Read more.
Exurban development is a prevalent cause of habitat loss and alteration throughout the globe and is a common land-use pattern in areas of high natural amenity value. We investigated the response of bird communities to exurban development in two contrasting North American regions, the Adirondack Park (New York) in the eastern US, and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (Montana) in the Rocky Mountain West. We combined social and ecological data collection methods to compare the effects of exurban development on avian communities between the two landscapes, and, in exurban residential areas within them, to compare the relative roles of habitat structure, resource provisioning, and human disturbance in influencing avian habitat use. Contrasting with an earlier pilot study, we found differential effects of exurban development in the two regions, with birds generally more responsive in the Adirondack Park. Characteristics of habitat context and structure had larger influences on bird habitat use than human-associated resource provisioning or disturbance in both landscapes. The smaller magnitude and high variability in the responses of birds to landowner stewardship and/or disturbance suggest that broader geographical factors are highly important and that careful siting of developments on the landscape may be more successful at protecting wildlife communities than attempts to influence the behaviors of their inhabitants once built. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Human Disturbance on Ecological Communities)
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Open AccessArticle
Landscape Transformation Influences Responses of Terrestrial Small Mammals to Land Use Intensity in North-Central Namibia
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 488; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120488 - 21 Dec 2020
Viewed by 522
Abstract
In this study, we investigate and compare the response patterns of small mammal communities to increasing land use intensity in two study areas: private farmland at the southern boundary of Etosha National Park and smallholder farmland in Tsumeb agricultural area. Species richness, community [...] Read more.
In this study, we investigate and compare the response patterns of small mammal communities to increasing land use intensity in two study areas: private farmland at the southern boundary of Etosha National Park and smallholder farmland in Tsumeb agricultural area. Species richness, community composition and a standardized capture index (RCI) are compared between sites of (a) increasing grazing pressure of ungulates (Etosha) and (b) increasing conversion of bushland to arable land (Tsumeb). Within each study area, we found clear response patterns towards increasing land use intensity. However, patterns differ significantly between the two areas. Within the less-transformed area (Etosha), high land use intensity results in a decrease in the RCI but not species richness. Small mammal communities remain relatively stable, but ecosystem functions (e.g., bioturbation, seed dispersal) are weakened. Within the more-transformed area (Tsumeb), high land use intensity leads to a decrease in species richness and increasing RCIs of two common pest species. The disappearance of a balanced community and the dramatic increase in a few pest species has the potential to threaten human livelihoods (e.g., crop damage, disease vectors). Our comparative approach clearly indicates that Gerbilliscus leucogaster is a possible candidate for an ecological indicator of ecosystem integrity. Mastomys natalensis has the potential to become an important pest species when bushland is transformed into irrigated arable land. Our results support the importance of area-specific conservation and management measures in savanna ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Human Disturbance on Ecological Communities)
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Open AccessArticle
Are Urban Communities in Successional Stasis? A Case Study on Epiphytic Lichen Communities
Diversity 2020, 12(9), 330; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12090330 - 29 Aug 2020
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Abstract
Urban areas may contain a wide range of potential habitats and environmental gradients and, given the many benefits to human health and well-being, there is a growing interest in maximizing their biodiversity potential. However, the ecological patterns and processes in urban areas are [...] Read more.
Urban areas may contain a wide range of potential habitats and environmental gradients and, given the many benefits to human health and well-being, there is a growing interest in maximizing their biodiversity potential. However, the ecological patterns and processes in urban areas are poorly understood. Using a widely applicable ecological survey method, we sampled epiphytic lichen communities, important bioindicators of atmospheric pollution, on host Quercus trees in urban parks of London, UK, to test if common patterns relating to lichen diversity are mirrored in urban green spaces. We found lichen diversity to be dependent on host species identity, and negatively related to local tree crowding. In addition, we found a strong negative effect of tree size on lichen diversity, leaving large trees as unexploited niches. A novel network analysis revealed the presence of only pioneer communities, showing the lichen communities are being held in successional stasis, likely due to the heritage effects of SO2 emissions and current nitrogen pollution and particulate emissions. Our study highlights that jointly assessing species richness, community structure and the successional stage can be key to understanding diversity patterns in urban ecosystems. Subsequently, this may help best determine the optimum conditions that will facilitate biodiversity increase within cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Human Disturbance on Ecological Communities)
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Open AccessArticle
Ichthyological Differentiation and Homogenization in the Pánuco Basin, Mexico
Diversity 2020, 12(5), 187; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12050187 - 11 May 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 945
Abstract
Species introductions and extirpations are key aspects of aquatic ecosystem change that need to be examined at large geographic and temporal scales. The Pánuco Basin (Eastern Mexico) has high ichthyological diversity and ecological heterogeneity. However, freshwater fish (FWF) introductions and extirpations since the [...] Read more.
Species introductions and extirpations are key aspects of aquatic ecosystem change that need to be examined at large geographic and temporal scales. The Pánuco Basin (Eastern Mexico) has high ichthyological diversity and ecological heterogeneity. However, freshwater fish (FWF) introductions and extirpations since the mid-1900s have modified species range and distribution. We examine changes in FWF species composition in and among four sub-basins of the Pánuco by comparing fish collection records pre-1980 to 2018. Currently, the FWF of the Pánuco includes 95 species. Fishes in the Poeciliidae, Cyprinidae, and Cichlidae, respectively, comprised most records over time. Significant differences in species composition were found between the first (pre-1980) and last (2011–2018) study periods, but not for periods in-between. Eight independent species groups were key for explaining changes in Pánuco river ichthyofauna; one group was dominated by invasive species, and saw increases in the number of records across study periods (faunal homogenization). Another group was formed by species with conservation concern with a declining number of records over time. Thirteen (2 native and 11 non-native) species were responsible for temporal turnover. These results strongly suggest high rates of differentiation over time (via native species loss) following widespread non-native species introductions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Human Disturbance on Ecological Communities)
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Review

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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
Effects of Human Disturbance on Terrestrial Apex Predators
Diversity 2021, 13(2), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020068 - 09 Feb 2021
Viewed by 482
Abstract
The effects of human disturbance spread over virtually all ecosystems and ecological communities on Earth. In this review, we focus on the effects of human disturbance on terrestrial apex predators. We summarize their ecological role in nature and how they respond to different [...] Read more.
The effects of human disturbance spread over virtually all ecosystems and ecological communities on Earth. In this review, we focus on the effects of human disturbance on terrestrial apex predators. We summarize their ecological role in nature and how they respond to different sources of human disturbance. Apex predators control their prey and smaller predators numerically and via behavioral changes to avoid predation risk, which in turn can affect lower trophic levels. Crucially, reducing population numbers and triggering behavioral responses are also the effects that human disturbance causes to apex predators, which may in turn influence their ecological role. Some populations continue to be at the brink of extinction, but others are partially recovering former ranges, via natural recolonization and through reintroductions. Carnivore recovery is both good news for conservation and a challenge for management, particularly when recovery occurs in human-dominated landscapes. Therefore, we conclude by discussing several management considerations that, adapted to local contexts, may favor the recovery of apex predator populations and their ecological functions in nature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Human Disturbance on Ecological Communities)
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