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Terrestrial Arthropod Assemblages: Their Use in Conservation Planning

C. Kremen, R. K. Colwell, T. L. Erwin, D. D. Murphy, R. F. Noss and M. A. Sanjayan
Conservation Biology
Vol. 7, No. 4 (Dec., 1993), pp. 796-808
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2386811
Page Count: 13
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Terrestrial Arthropod Assemblages: Their Use in Conservation Planning
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Abstract

Arthropods, the most diverse component of terrestrial ecosystems, occupy a tremendous variety of functional niches and microhabitats across a wide array of spatial and temporal scales. We propose that conservation biologists should take advantage of terrestrial arthropod diversity as a rich data source for conservation planning and management. For reserve selection and design, documentation of the microgeography of selected arthropod taxa can delineate distinct biogeographic zones, areas of endemism, community types, and centers of evolutionary radiation to improve the spatial resolution of conservation planning. For management of natural areas, monitoring of terrestrial arthropod indicators can provide early warnings of ecological changes, and can be used to assay the effects of further fragmentation on natural areas that no longer support vertebrate indicator species. Many arthropod indicators respond to environmental changes more rapidly than do vertebrate indicators, which may exhibit population responses that do not become evident until too late for proactive management. Not all arthropod taxa are equally effective as indicators for conservation planning, and the qualities of indicators can differ for purposes of inventory versus monitoring. Assemblages of arthropod taxa used as biogeographic probes in inventories should exhibit relatively high species diversity, high endemism, and encompass the geographic range of interest. For monitoring purposes, indicator assemblages should exhibit varying sensitivity to environmental perturbations and a diversity of life-history and ecological preferences.

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