The impact of habitat structure change on arthropod food web complexity in Azorean forests

  • State

  • Name
    Sébastien Lhoumeau
  • Host entity
    CE3C / Grupo da Biodiversidade dos Açores | Atlantic International Research Centre
  • University awarding
    University of Azores


  1. Quantify and qualify habitat structure of Azorean forests using novel techniques (e.g. LIDAR, Space Syntax,Network analysis etc).
  2. Assess network complexity between several trophic groups of arthropods, obtaining an overview of food web complexity in Azorean native and exotic forests.
  3. Using a long-term dataset (2012-2022) quantify the impact seasonal and temporal environmental changes on network complexity between several trophic groups of arthropods.
  4. Evaluate the impact of disturbance on insect top-predators (Hymenoptera: Parasitica)

Results & Impact


  1. We predict that airborne LiDAR-derived variables characterizing vegetation structure will work as predictors for forest arthropod diversity and biomass.
  2. We predict that arthropod network complexity will be related with habitat structure and complexity.
  3. Since performance of structural models decline from herbivores to predators, we predict that more complex forest understory will have more diverse predator communities.
  4. We predict that Hymenoptera parasitoids will be highly susceptible to changes in environmental conditions, since they depend on a series of adaptations to the ecology and physiology of their hosts and host plants for survival.
  5. We predict that land-use changes from native forest to exotic mixed forests and associated disturbances in Azores is creating habitat homogenization and simplification with a negative impact on top-predators diversity.