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Tourism and urban development as drivers for invertebrate diversity loss on tropical islands


Steibl, Sebastian; Franke, Jonas; Laforsch, Christian (2021), Tourism and urban development as drivers for invertebrate diversity loss on tropical islands, Dryad, Dataset,


Oceanic islands harbour a disproportionately high number of endemic and threatened species. Rapidly growing human populations and tourism are posing an increasing threat to island biota, yet the ecological consequences of these human land uses on small oceanic island systems have not been quantified. Here, we investigated and compared the impact of tourism and urban island development on ground-associated invertebrate biodiversity and habitat composition on oceanic islands. To disentangle tourism and urban land uses, we investigated Indo-Pacific atoll islands, which either exhibit only tourism or urban development, or remain uninhabited. Within the investigated system, we show that species richness, abundance, and Shannon diversity of the ground-associated invertebrate community are significantly decreased on islands used for tourism and on islands with urban development, relative to uninhabited islands. Remote-sensing-based spatial data suggests that habitat fragmentation and a reduction in vegetation density are having significant effects on biodiversity on urban islands, whereas land use/ cover changes could not be linked to the documented biodiversity loss on tourist islands. This offers first direct evidence for a major terrestrial invertebrate loss on remote oceanic islands due to different human land uses with yet unforeseeable long-term consequences for the stability and resilience of oceanic island ecosystems.