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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR CONSERVATION OF WESTERN RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Constraints and time lags for recovery of a keystone species (Dipodomys spectabilis) after landscape restoration

Authors
item Cosentino, Bradley -
item Schooley, Robert L -
item Bestelmeyer, Brandon
item Kelly, Jeffrey -
item Coffman, John -

Submitted to: Landscape Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2014
Publication Date: February 16, 2014
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/58713
Citation: Cosentino, B.J., Schooley, R., Bestelmeyer, B.T., Kelly, J.F., Coffman, J. 2014. Constraints and time lags for recovery of a keystone species (Dipodomys spectabilis) after landscape restoration. Landscape Ecology. 29:665-675.

Interpretive Summary: We examined the relative importance of local and landscape constraints on the response of the banner-tailed kangaroo rat (Dipodomys spectabilis) to restoration of Chihuahuan Desert grasslands in New Mexico, USA. This rodent is a keystone species that affects the abundance of other organisms. Our results indicate that density of D. spectabilis depended strongly on the spatial configuration of treated areas, which supports a landscape mosaic approach to restoration. If keystone species commonly exhibit limited dispersal ability, landscape constraints may be broadly important for shaping ecosystem structure and function after habitat restoration.

Technical Abstract: Habitat restoration is typically focused on reestablishing suitable conditions at a local scale, but landscape constraints may be important for keystone species with limited dispersal. We tested for time lags and examined the relative importance of local and landscape constraints on the response of the banner-tailed kangaroo rat (Dipodomys spectabilis) to restoration of Chihuahuan Desert grasslands in New Mexico, USA. Dipodomys spectabilis is a keystone species that creates habitat heterogeneity and modifies the structure of plant and animal communities. We selected 21 sites and compared density of D. spectabilis between areas treated with herbicide to control shrubs (treated areas) and paired untreated areas. We evaluated whether density of D. spectabilis depended on treatment age, local habitat quality (vegetation and soil structure), and landscape factors (treatment area and spatial connectivity). Density was greater at treated areas than at untreated areas due to a direct effect of reduced shrub cover. However, the response of D. spectabilis to restoration was lagged by a decade or more. Structural equation modeling indicated the time lag reflected a dispersal constraint as opposed to a temporal change in habitat quality. This inference was corroborated by a positive relationship between density at treated areas and connectivity to source populations. Our results indicate that density of D. spectabilis depended strongly on the spatial configuration of treated areas, which supports a landscape mosaic approach to restoration. If keystone species commonly exhibit limited dispersal ability, landscape constraints may be broadly important for shaping ecosystem structure and function after habitat restoration.

Last Modified: 9/2/2014
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