Loss and fragmentation of natural habitats can lead to alterations of plant–animal interactions and ecosystems functioning. Insect herbivory, an important antagonistic interaction is expected to be influenced by habitat fragmentation through direct negative effects on herbivore community richness and indirect positive effects due to losses of natural enemies. Plant community changes with habitat fragmentation added to the indirect effects but with little predictable impact. Here, we evaluated habitat fragmentation effects on both herbivory and herbivore diversity, using novel hierarchical meta‐analyses. Across 89 studies, we found a negative effect of habitat fragmentation on abundance and species richness of herbivores, but only a non‐significant trend on herbivory. Reduced area and increased isolation of remaining fragments yielded the strongest effect on abundance and species richness, while specialist herbivores were the most vulnerable to habitat fragmentation. These fragmentation effects were more pronounced in studies with large spatial extent. The strong reduction in herbivore diversity, but not herbivory, indicates how important common generalist species can be in maintaining herbivory as a major ecosystem process.
Rossetti et al: Responses of insect herbivores and herbivory... (2017)
Rossetti, M.R., Tscharntke, T., Aguilar, R. and Batáry P.
Responses of insect herbivores and herbivory to habitat fragmentation: a hierarchical meta-analysis.
Ecology Letters 20: 264–272.