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      Effects of large herbivores on grassland arthropod diversity

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          Abstract

          Both arthropods and large grazing herbivores are important components and drivers of biodiversity in grassland ecosystems, but a synthesis of how arthropod diversity is affected by large herbivores has been largely missing. To fill this gap, we conducted a literature search, which yielded 141 studies on this topic of which 24 simultaneously investigated plant and arthropod diversity. Using the data from these 24 studies, we compared the responses of plant and arthropod diversity to an increase in grazing intensity. This quantitative assessment showed no overall significant effect of increasing grazing intensity on plant diversity, while arthropod diversity was generally negatively affected. To understand these negative effects, we explored the mechanisms by which large herbivores affect arthropod communities: direct effects, changes in vegetation structure, changes in plant community composition, changes in soil conditions, and cascading effects within the arthropod interaction web. We identify three main factors determining the effects of large herbivores on arthropod diversity: ( i) unintentional predation and increased disturbance, ( ii) decreases in total resource abundance for arthropods (biomass) and ( iii) changes in plant diversity, vegetation structure and abiotic conditions. In general, heterogeneity in vegetation structure and abiotic conditions increases at intermediate grazing intensity, but declines at both low and high grazing intensity. We conclude that large herbivores can only increase arthropod diversity if they cause an increase in (a)biotic heterogeneity, and then only if this increase is large enough to compensate for the loss of total resource abundance and the increased mortality rate. This is expected to occur only at low herbivore densities or with spatio-temporal variation in herbivore densities. As we demonstrate that arthropod diversity is often more negatively affected by grazing than plant diversity, we strongly recommend considering the specific requirements of arthropods when applying grazing management and to include arthropods in monitoring schemes. Conservation strategies aiming at maximizing heterogeneity, including regulation of herbivore densities (through human interventions or top-down control), maintenance of different types of management in close proximity and rotational grazing regimes, are the most promising options to conserve arthropod diversity.

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          Most cited references 479

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          Competitive Exclusion in Herbaceous Vegetation

           J. P. Grime (1973)
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            Grazing Lawns: Animals in Herds, Plant Form, and Coevolution

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              Guidelines for systematic review in conservation and environmental management.

              An increasing number of applied disciplines are utilizing evidence-based frameworks to review and disseminate the effectiveness of management and policy interventions. The rationale is that increased accessibility of the best available evidence will provide a more efficient and less biased platform for decision making. We argue that there are significant benefits for conservation in using such a framework, but the scientific community needs to undertake and disseminate more systematic reviews before the full benefit can be realized. We devised a set of guidelines for undertaking formalized systematic review, based on a health services model. The guideline stages include planning and conducting a review, including protocol formation, search strategy, data inclusion, data extraction, and analysis. Review dissemination is addressed in terms of current developments and future plans for a Web-based open-access library. By the use of case studies we highlight critical modifications to guidelines for protocol formulation, data-quality assessment, data extraction, and data synthesis for conservation and environmental management. Ecological data presented significant but soluble challenges for the systematic review process, particularly in terms of the quantity, accessibility, and diverse quality of available data. In the field of conservation and environmental management there needs to be further engagement of scientists and practitioners to develop and take ownership of an evidence-based framework.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc
                Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc
                brv
                Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
                Blackwell Publishing Ltd (Oxford, UK )
                1464-7931
                1469-185X
                May 2015
                16 May 2014
                : 90
                : 2
                : 347-366
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Community and Conservation Ecology Group, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen Nijenborgh 7, 9747 AG, Groningen, The Netherlands
                [2 ]Bargerveen Foundation Toernooiveld 1, 6525 ED, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
                [3 ]Department of Animal Ecology and Ecophysiology, Institute of Water and Wetland Research, Radboud University Nijmegen Heijendaelseweg 135, 6525 AJ, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
                [4 ]Terrestrial Ecology Unit, Department of Biology, Ghent University K. L. Ledeganckstraat 35, B-9000, Ghent, Belgium
                [5 ]De Vlinderstichting/Dutch Butterfly Conservation Mennonietenweg 10, 6702 AD, Wageningen, The Netherlands
                [6 ]Laboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB, Wageningen, The Netherlands
                Author notes
                *Address for correspondence (Tel: 0031(0)50-3632229; E-mail: r.van.klink@ 123456rug.nl ).
                [†]

                Authors contributed equally.

                Article
                10.1111/brv.12113
                4402009
                24837856
                © 2014 The Authors. Biological Reviews published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Cambridge Philosophical Society

                This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

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