Changes in species composition and diversity of a montane beetle community over the last millennium in the High Tatras, Slovakia: Implications for forest conservation and management

Schafstall, Nick and Whitehouse, Nicki and Kuosmanen, Niina and Svodobova-Svitavaska, Helena and Saulnier, Melanie and Chiverrell, Richard and Fleischer, Peter and Kunes, Petr and Clear, Jennifer (2020) Changes in species composition and diversity of a montane beetle community over the last millennium in the High Tatras, Slovakia: Implications for forest conservation and management. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 555. ISSN 0031-0182

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Abstract

Montane biomes are niche environments high in biodiversity with a variety of habitats. Often isolated, these non-continuous remnant ecosystems inhabit narrow ecological zones putting them under threat from changing climatic conditions and anthropogenic pressure. Twelve sediment cores were retrieved from a peat bog in Tatra National Park, Slovakia, and correlated to each other by wiggle-matching geochemical signals derived from micro-XRF scanning, to make a reconstruction of past conditions. A fossil beetle (Coleoptera) record, covering the last 1000 years at 50- to 100-year resolution, gives a new insight into changing flora and fauna in this region. Our findings reveal a diverse beetle community with varied ecological groups inhabiting a range of forest, meadow and synanthropic habitats. Changes in the beetle community were related to changes in the landscape, driven by anthropogenic activities. The first clear evidence for human activity in the area occurs c. 1250 CE and coincides with the arrival of beetle species living on the dung of domesticated animals (e.g. Aphodius spp.). From 1500 CE, human (re)settlement, and activities such as pasturing and charcoal burning, appear to have had a pronounced effect on the beetle community. Local beetle diversity declined steadily towards the present day, likely due to an infilling of the forest hollow leading to a decrease in moisture level. We conclude that beetle communities are directly affected by anthropogenic intensity and land-use change. When aiming to preserve or restore natural forest conditions, recording their past changes in diversity can help guide conservation and restoration. In doing so, it is important to look back beyond the time of significant human impact, and for this, information contained in paleoecological records is irreplaceable.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: “NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Vol 55, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018220302790
Keywords: Coleoptera; Nature conservation; Biodiversity; Human impact; Central Europe; Climate change
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > Geography and Environmental Science
Depositing User: Matthew Adams
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2020 15:33
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2020 15:33
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/3095

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