Habitat fragmentation is a leading threat to biodiversity, yet the impacts of fragmentation on most taxa, let alone interactions among those taxa, remain largely unknown.
We studied how three consequences of fragmentation—reduced patch connectivity, altered patch shape, and edge proximity—impact plant-dwelling mite communities and mite-plant-fungus interactions within a large-scale habitat fragmentation experiment.
We sampled mite communities from the leaves of
Habitat edges influenced the abundance and richness of leaf-dwelling mites; plants closer to the edge had higher mite abundance and species richness. Likewise, hyphal counts were higher on leaves near patch edges. Despite both mite and fungal abundance being higher at patch edges, leaf hyphal counts were not impacted by mite abundance on those leaves. Neither patch shape nor connectivity influenced mite abundance, mite species richness, or the influence of mites on leaf surface fungal abundance.
Our results suggest that mites and foliar fungi may bemore »