Local-scale temperature gradients driven by human disturbance shape the physiological and morphological traits of dung beetle communities in a Bornean oil palm–forest mosaic
Published in Functional Ecology, 2022
Recommended citation: Williamson, J., Teh, E., Jucker, T., Brindle, M., Bush, E., Chung, A. Y., Parrett, J., Lewis, O. T., Rossiter, S. J., Slade, E. M. (2022). Local-scale temperature gradients driven by human disturbance shape the physiological and morphological traits of dung beetle communities in a Bornean oil palm–forest mosaic. Functional Ecology, 00, 1– 13. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.14062 https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.16130
- Temperature change is an often-assumed, but rarely tested, mechanism by which sensitive species may decline in forest landscapes following habitat degradation, fragmentation and destruction.
- Traits mediate how species respond to environmental change, with physiological, morphological and behavioural traits key to determining the response of ectotherms to temperature.
- We collected data on traits linked to thermal sensitivity (critical thermal maxima, body size, cuticle lightness and pilosity) for 46 dung beetle species (Scarabaeinae) in a forest–oil palm mosaic in Malaysian Borneo. By combining these data with a large-scale community sampling campaign (>59,000 individuals sampled from >600 traps) and an airborne Light Detection and Ranging-derived thermal map, we investigated how traits mediate species- and community-level responses to temperature.
- Using hierarchical models, we found that critical thermal maxima predicted how species respond to maximum temperatures. These results were mirrored in community-level analyses alongside similar patterns in other thermal traits. Increased body size and decreased pilosity were associated with higher temperatures, while cuticle lightness showed a complex relationship with temperature across the disturbance gradient.
- Our findings highlight the potential mechanisms by whichforest specialists decline in human-modified landscapes, resulting in changes to community patterns and processes.