Grain-dependent responses of mammalian diversity to land use and the implications for conservation set-aside

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Diversity responses to land-use change are poorly understood at local scales, hindering our ability to make forecasts and management recommendations at scales which are of practical relevance. A key barrier in this has been the underappreciation of grain-dependent diversity responses and the role that β-diversity (variation in community composition across space) plays in this. Decisions about the most effective spatial arrangement of conservation set-aside, for example high conservation value areas, have also neglected β-diversity, despite its role in determining the complementarity of sites. We examined local-scale mammalian species richness and β-diversity across old-growth forest, logged forest, and oil palm plantations in Borneo, using intensive camera- and live-trapping. For the first time, we were able to investigate diversity responses, as well as β-diversity, at multiple spatial grains, and across the whole terrestrial mammal community (large and small mammals); β-diversity was quantified by comparing observed β-diversity with that obtained under a null model, in order to control for sampling effects, and we refer to this as the β-diversity signal. Community responses to land use were grain dependent, with large mammals showing reduced richness in logged forest compared to old-growth forest at the grain of individual sampling points, but no change at the overall land-use level. Responses varied with species group, however, with small mammals increasing in richness at all grains in logged forest compared to old-growth forest. Both species groups were significantly depauperate in oil palm. Large mammal communities in old-growth forest became more heterogeneous at coarser spatial grains and small mammal communities became more homogeneous, while this pattern was reversed in logged forest. Both groups, however, showed a significant β-diversity signal at the finest grain in logged forest, likely due to logging-induced environmental heterogeneity. The β-diversity signal in oil palm was weak, but heterogeneity at the coarsest spatial grain was still evident, likely due to variation in landscape forest cover. Our findings suggest that the most effective spatial arrangement of set-aside will involve trade-offs between conserving large and small mammals. Greater consideration in the conservation and management of tropical landscapes needs to be given to β-diversity at a range of spatial grains.