Increase in abundance and species richness of flies (Diptera, Brachycera) in the Lake Engure Nature Park, Latvia: effects of climate warming?

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The article discusses changes in species richness and numbers of flies (Diptera, Brachycera) in the Lake Engure Nature Park (LENP) during 1995-2012. The study was performed within the framework of the National Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network of Latvia. During the period of study, a statistically significant increase in positive temperature sums (> 4 °C) was observed at the local meteorological station (R2 = 0.489; P < 0.01). Insects were collected three times per season (June, July, and August) by entomological sweep net from twelve sample plots, which represented a variety of habitats of the LENP - dry xerophytic, mesophytic and humid hygrophytic ones. In total 411 species from 35 families were identified. Dry sample plots showed a statistically significant increase in species richness and/or numbers of flies during the period of study. Humid sample plots did not show any statistically significant trends except for two grassland plots where large herbivores were introduced in 2005 for grassland management purpose. Pooling the data from all sample plots, except those grazed by large herbivores, yielded a statistically significant trend of increase in species richness of flies (R2 = 0.647; P < 0.01). Among the main trophic groups zoophagous species showed the largest number of statistically significant positive trends mostly within the dry sample plots. For several sample plots significant positive correlations were recorded between species richness of zoophagous flies and annual sums of positive temperatures. It was hypothesised that climate warming may have an indirect effect via interaction with other environmental factors such as moisture regime, nitrogen pollution, and vegetation structure.

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