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Effects of forest canopy on habitat selection in treefrogs and aquatic insects: implications for communities and metacommunities

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The specific dispersal/colonization strategies used by species to locate and colonize habitat patches can strongly influence both community and metacommunity structure. Habitat selection theory predicts nonrandom dispersal to and colonization of habitat patches based on their quality. We tested whether habitat selection was capable of generating patterns of diversity and abundance across a transition of canopy coverage (open and closed canopy) and nutrient addition by investigating oviposition site choice in two treefrog species (Hyla) and an aquatic beetle (Tropisternus lateralis), and the colonization dynamics of a diverse assemblage of aquatic insects (primarily beetles). Canopy cover produced dramatic patterns of presence/absence, abundance, and species richness, as open canopy ponds received 99.5% of propagules and 94.6% of adult insect colonists. Nutrient addition affected only Tropisternus oviposition, as females oviposited more egg cases at higher nutrient levels, but only in open canopy ponds. The behavioral partitioning of aquatic landscapes into suitable and unsuitable habitats via habitat selection behavior fundamentally alters how communities within larger ecological landscapes (metacommunities) are linked by dispersal and colonization.

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We thank J. Bolin and J. Rieger for assistance in the field. D. Chalcraft, J. Davenport, C.P. Doncaster, A. Gonzalez, L. Horth, J. Lear, J. Ray, T. Rogers, and two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript. Funded by NSF (DEB-0096051, DEB-0516298) and EPA-STAR (R825795–01-0) grants to WJR. Experiments comply with current United States’ law.

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Correspondence to Christopher A. Binckley.

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Communicated by Andrew Gonzales.

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Binckley, C.A., Resetarits, W.J. Effects of forest canopy on habitat selection in treefrogs and aquatic insects: implications for communities and metacommunities. Oecologia 153, 951–958 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-007-0780-5

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  • Behavior
  • Colonization
  • Dispersal
  • Productivity
  • Oviposition