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Impacts on food web properties of island invertebrate communities vary between different human land uses


Steibl, Sebastian; Gebauer, Gerhard; Laforsch, Christian (2022), Impacts on food web properties of island invertebrate communities vary between different human land uses, Dryad, Dataset,


Human land use is of growing concern for island ecosystems. Besides direct impacts on biodiversity, land uses can alter the functioning and structure of ecosystems. Central to this are impacts on food webs. The release of additional nutrients from human origin, habitat homogenization, or environmental filtering due to human land use can change the diet of individual consumer species (i.e., their trophic niches) and the distribution and overlap of trophic niches within a food web. However, it remains largely unclear whether the effects on food web properties vary between the different and predominant human land uses present on islands. Here, we investigated the impact of two dominant human land uses on small oceanic islands (i.e., urban and tourism development) and tested if and how different land uses on islands affect food web structure. To disentangle human land uses, we investigated islands, which were either privately owned by a tourist facility (i.e., exclusively tourism land use) or experienced urban development from the local population (i.e., urban land use), or remained uninhabited, serving as reference sites free of direct land use. Using stable isotope analysis, we show that isotope signature, trophic (isotopic) niches, and overall food web properties of the investigated island invertebrate communities were significantly changed under both land use regimes. While trophic diversity was reduced and trophic niche widths increased under tourism land use, the investigated food webs showed reduced trophic diversity at the food web base and a more uneven trophic niche distribution under urban land use. In summary, these findings show that different human land uses can have contrasting impacts on oceanic island food webs. As oceanic islands experience rapidly growing human land conversion, our results indicate that they may also face increasing yet unpredictable long-term changes in food web dynamics.