Biodiversity assessment in incomplete inventories: leaf litter ant communities in several types of Bornean rain forest.
ABSTRACT: Biodiversity assessment of tropical taxa is hampered by their tremendous richness, which leads to large numbers of singletons and incomplete inventories in survey studies. Species estimators can be used for assessment of alpha diversity, but calculation of beta diversity is hampered by pseudo-turnover of species in undersampled plots. To assess the impact of unseen species, we investigated different methods, including an unbiased estimator of Shannon beta diversity that was compared to biased calculations. We studied alpha and beta diversity of a diverse ground ant assemblage from the Southeast Asian island of Borneo in different types of tropical forest: diperocarp forest, alluvial forest, limestone forest and heath forests. Forests varied in plant composition, geology, flooding regimes and other environmental parameters. We tested whether forest types differed in species composition and if species turnover was a function of the distance between plots at different spatial scales. As pseudo-turnover may bias beta diversity we hypothesized a large effect of unseen species reducing beta diversity. We sampled 206 ant species (25% singletons) from ten subfamilies and 55 genera. Diversity partitioning among the four forest types revealed that whereas alpha species richness and alpha Shannon diversity were significantly smaller than expected, beta-diversity for both measurements was significantly higher than expected by chance. This result was confirmed when we used the unbiased estimation of Shannon diversity: while alpha diversity was much higher, beta diversity differed only slightly from biased calculations. Beta diversity as measured with the Chao-Sørensen or Morisita-Horn Index correlated with distance between transects and between sample points, indicating a distance decay of similarity between communities. We conclude that habitat heterogeneity has a high influence on ant diversity and species turnover in tropical sites and that unseen species may have only little impact on calculation of Shannon beta diversity when sampling effort has been high.
Project description:Riparian vegetation is a distinctive and ecologically important element of landscapes worldwide. However, the relative influence of the surrounding landscape on the conservation of the biodiversity of riparian remnants in human-modified tropical landscapes is poorly understood. We studied the surrounding landscape to evaluate its influence on leaf-litter-ant alpha and beta diversity in riparian remnants in the tropical montane cloud forest region of central Veracruz, Mexico. Sampling was carried out in 12 sites with riparian vegetation during both rainy (2011) and dry (2012) seasons. Ten leaf-litter samples were collected along a 100-m transect per site and processed with Berlese-Tullgren funnels and Winkler sacks. Using remotely-sensed and ground-collected data, we characterized the landscape around each site according to nine land cover types and computed metrics of landscape composition and configuration. We collected a total of 8,684 ant individuals belonging to 53 species, 22 genera, 11 tribes, and 7 subfamilies. Species richness and the diversity of Shannon and Simpson increased significantly in remnants immersed in landscapes with a high percentage of riparian land cover and a low percentage of land covers with areas reforested with Pinus, cattle pastures, and human settlements and infrastructure. The composition of ant assemblages was a function of the percentage of riparian land cover in the landscape. This study found evidence that leaf-litter ants, a highly specialized guild of arthropods, are mainly impacted by landscape composition and the configuration of the focal remnant. Maintaining or improving the surrounding landscape quality of riparian vegetation remnants can stimulate the movement of biodiversity among forest and riparian remnants and foster the provision of ecosystem services by these ecosystems. Effective outcomes may be achieved by considering scientific knowledge during the early stages of riparian policy formulation, in addition to integrating riparian management strategies with broader environmental planning instruments.
Project description:Fire has become a common feature in tropical drained peatlands, and it may have detrimental impacts on the overall biodiversity of the forest ecosystem. We investigated the effect of fire on termite and ant assemblages and the importance of remnant forest in restoring species diversity in fire-impacted tropical peat swamp forests. The species loss of both termites and ants was as high as 50% in some fire-impacted peats compared to remnant forests, but in most cases the species richness for termites and ants was statistically equal along the land uses surveyed. However, a pronounced difference in functional group composition of termites was detected. In particular, sites close to remnant forests contained two additional termite feeding groups so that they shared a similar composition structure with remnant forests but were significantly different from sites distant from remnant forests. In general, ants were resilient to fire, and the similarity index showed a high degree of similarity among ant communities in all land uses surveyed. The Shannon diversity index for termites and ants decreased with increasing distance from the remnant forests and level of ecological degradation. Peat vegetation variables and ecological degradation were important in shaping termite and ant communities in the tropical peatlands, but their relative importance was not significant in fire-impacted peats regardless of distance from the remnant forests. This study highlights the importance of remnant forests as a biodiversity repository and natural buffer that can enhance species diversity and recolonization of forest-adapted species.
Project description:Although elevational gradients of biodiversity have long been the topic of scientific research, information on patterns of, and processes that shape insect community structure across elevation is still lacking. Addressing this gap requires the use of both taxonomic and functional approaches when studying diversity across elevational gradients. In this study, we examined taxonomic and functional alpha and beta diversity of ant assemblages sampled along tropical, subtropical, and subalpine elevational transects in Yunnan Province, southwest China. Species richness was used to quantify taxonomic alpha diversity, and two indices (FD and FRic) were calculated using morphological measurements to quantify functional alpha diversity. Taxonomic and functional beta diversity were partitioned into their turnover- and nestedness-resultant components. Though temperature and functional alpha diversity decreased linearly with increasing elevation, taxonomic alpha diversity showed a significant logarithmic decrease, with few species present at elevations greater than 3000 m a.s.l. The turnover-resultant component of taxonomic beta diversity increased with increasing elevational distance, while the nestedness-resultant component of functional beta diversity increased with increasing elevational distance in the subtropical transect. The observed patterns of taxonomic and functional diversity reflected ants' thermophilic nature, implying functional adaptations (i.e., nested functional diversity) at higher elevations where environmental conditions were unfavorable.
Project description:Analysis of the structure, diversity, and demographic dynamics of tree assemblages in tropical forests is especially important in order to evaluate local and regional successional trajectories.We conducted a long-term study to investigate how the structure, species richness, and diversity of secondary tropical forests change over time. Trees (DBH ? 5 cm) in the Atlantic Forest of southern Brazil were sampled twice during a 10-year period (2007 and 2017) in six stands (1 ha each) that varied in age from their last disturbance (25, 60, 75, 90, and more than 100 years). We compared forest structure (abundance and basal area), species richness, alpha diversity, demographic rates (mortality, recruitment, and loss or gain in basal area), species composition, spatial beta diversity, and temporal beta diversity (based on turnover and nestedness indices) among stand ages and study years.Demographic rates recorded in a 10-year interval indicate a rapid and dynamic process of species substitution and structural changes. Structural recovery occurred faster than beta diversity and species composition recovery. The successional gradient showed a pattern of species trade-off over time, with less spatial dissimilarity and faster demographic rates in younger stands. As stands grow older, they show larger spatial turnover of species than younger stands, making them more stochastic in relation to species composition. Stands appear to split chronologically to some extent, but not across a straightforward linear axis, reflecting stochastic changes, providing evidence for the formation of a nonequilibrium community. Policy implications. These results reiterate the complexity and variability in forest succession and serve as a reference for the evaluation and monitoring of local management and conservation actions and for defining regional strategies that consider the diversity of local successional trajectories to evaluate the effectiveness of restoration measures in secondary forests of the Atlantic Forest biome.
Project description:The maintenance of seedling diversity of animal-dispersed tree species is fundamental for the structure and function of forest patches in fragmented tropical rainforests. Nonetheless, the effects of landscape structure at different spatial scales on α- and β-diversity of tree seedling communities are recently explored. Using a multi-scale approach, we assessed the relative effect of landscape composition and configuration on α- and β-diversity of animal-dispersed seedlings within 16 forest patches in the Lacandona rainforest, Mexico. We assessed these effects at 13 spatial scales (from 300 to 1500 m radius, at 100 m intervals) for three metrics of effective number of species considering α- and β-diversity. We found that α-diversity was largely affected by landscape composition and β-diversity by landscape configuration. On the one hand, the amount of secondary forest influenced α-diversity. Additionally, species richness increased in landscapes with highly aggregated forest patches. On the other hand, β-diversity was affected positively by forest fragmentation and negatively by the edge contrast of forest patches with the surrounding matrix. Our findings indicate that landscape configuration is a strong driver of seedling diversity in highly deforested rainforests. Promoting forest patches and secondary forests through payment for ecosystem services' programs, favoring matrix quality within land-sharing schemes of smallholder agriculture and secondary forest management, and identifying restoration opportunities for assisted or unassisted natural regeneration are urgently needed for conservation of seedling diversity in human-modified tropical landscapes.
Project description:Our perception of diversity, including both alpha- and beta-diversity components, depends on spatial scale. Studies of spatial variation of the latter are just starting, with a paucity of research on beta-diversity patterns at smaller scales. Understanding these patterns and the processes shaping the distribution of diversity is critical to describe this diversity, but it is paramount in conservation too. Here, we investigate the diversity and structure of a tropical community of herbivorous beetles at a reduced local scale of some 10 km2, evaluating the effect of a small, gradual ecological change on this structure. We sampled leaf beetles in the Núi Chúa National Park (S Vietnam), studying changes in alpha- and beta-diversity across an elevation gradient up to 500 m, encompassing the ecotone between critically endangered lowland dry deciduous forest and mixed evergreen forest at higher elevations. Leaf beetle diversity was assessed using several molecular tree-based species delimitation approaches (with mtDNA cox1 data), species richness using rarefaction and incidence-based diversity indexes, and beta-diversity was investigated decomposing the contribution of species turnover and nestedness. We documented 155 species in the area explored and species-richness estimates 1.5-2.0x higher. Species diversity was similar in both forest types and changes in alpha-diversity along the elevation gradient showed an expected local increase of diversity in the ecotone. Beta-diversity was high among forest paths (average Sørensen's dissimilarity = 0.694) and, tentatively fixing at 300 m the boundary between otherwise continuous biomes, demonstrated similarly high beta-diversity (Sørensen's dissimilarity = 0.581), with samples clustering according to biome/elevation. Highly relevant considering the local scale of the study, beta-diversity had a high contribution of species replacement among locales (54.8%) and between biomes (79.6%), suggesting environmental heterogeneity as the dominant force shaping diversity at such small scale, directly and indirectly on the plant communities. Protection actions in the Park, especially these addressed at the imperative conservation of dry forest, must ponder the small scale at which processes shape species diversity and community structure for inconspicuous, yet extraordinarily diverse organisms such as the leaf beetles.
Project description:Tropical bird assemblages display patterns of high alpha and beta diversity and, as tropical birds exhibit strong habitat specificity, their spatial distributions are generally assumed to be driven primarily by environmental heterogeneity and interspecific interactions. However, spatial distributions of some Amazonian forest birds are also often restricted by large rivers and other large-scale topographic features, suggesting that dispersal limitation may also play a role in driving species' turnover. In this study, we evaluated the effects of environmental characteristics, topographic and spatial variables on variation in local assemblage structure and diversity of birds in an old-growth forest in central Amazonia. Birds were mist-netted in 72 plots distributed systematically across a 10,000 ha reserve in each of three years. Alpha diversity remained stable through time, but species composition changed. Spatial variation in bird-assemblage structure was significantly related to environmental and topographic variables but not strongly related to spatial variables. At a broad scale, we found bird assemblages to be significantly distinct between two watersheds that are divided by a central ridgeline. We did not detect an effect of the ridgeline per se in driving these patterns, indicating that most birds are able to fly across it, and that differences in assemblage structure between watersheds may be due to unmeasured environmental variables or unique combinations of measured variables. Our study indicates that complex geography and landscape features can act together with environmental variables to drive changes in the diversity and composition of tropical bird assemblages at local scales, but highlights that we still know very little about what makes different parts of tropical forest suitable for different species.
Project description:The expansion of the agricultural frontier by the clearing of remnant forests has led to human-dominated landscape mosaics. Previous studies have evaluated the effect of these landscape mosaics on arthropod diversity at local spatial scales in temperate and tropical regions, but little is known about fragmentation effects in crop systems, such as the complex tropical traditional crop systems that maintain a high diversity of weeds and arthropods in low-Andean regions. To understand the factors that influence patterns of diversity in human-dominated landscapes, we investigate the effect of land use types on plant and arthropod diversity in traditionally managed cornfields, via surveys of plants and arthropods in twelve traditional cornfields in the Colombian Andes. We estimated alpha and beta diversity to analyze changes in diversity related to land uses within a radius of 100 m to 1 km around each cornfield. We observed that forests influenced alpha diversity of plants, but not of arthropods. Agricultural lands had a positive relationship with plants and herbivores, but a negative relationship with predators. Pastures positively influenced the diversity of plants and arthropods. In addition, forest cover seemed to influence changes in plant species composition and species turnover of herbivore communities among cornfields. The dominant plant species varied among fields, resulting in high differentiation of plant communities. Predator communities also exhibited high turnover among cornfields, but differences in composition arose mainly among rare species. The crop system evaluated in this study represents a widespread situation in the tropics, therefore, our results can be of broad significance. Our findings suggest that traditional agriculture may not homogenize biological communities, but instead could maintain the regional pool of species through high beta diversity.
Project description:Beta diversity - the variation in species composition among spatially discrete communities - and sampling grain - the size of samples being compared - may alter our perspectives of diversity within and between landscapes before and after agricultural conversion. Such assumptions are usually based on point comparisons, which do not accurately capture actual differences in total diversity. Beta diversity is often not rigorously examined. We investigated the beta diversity of ground-foraging ant communities in fragmented oil palm and forest landscapes in Sabah, Malaysia, using diversity metrics transformed from Hill number equivalents to remove dependences on alpha diversity. We compared the beta diversities of oil palm and forest, across three hierarchically nested sampling grains. We found that oil palm and forest communities had a greater percentage of total shared species when larger samples were compared. Across all grains and disregarding relative abundances, there was higher beta diversity of all species among forest communities. However, there were higher beta diversities of common and very abundant (dominant) species in oil palm as compared to forests. Differences in beta diversities between oil palm and forest were greatest at the largest sampling grain. Larger sampling grains in oil palm may generate bigger species pools, increasing the probability of shared species with forest samples. Greater beta diversity of all species in forest may be attributed to rare species. Oil palm communities may be more heterogeneous in common and dominant species because of variable community assembly events. Rare and also common species are better captured at larger grains, boosting differences in beta diversity between larger samples of forest and oil palm communities. Although agricultural landscapes support a lower total diversity than natural forests, diversity especially of abundant species is still important for maintaining ecosystem stability. Diversity in agricultural landscapes may be greater than expected when beta diversity is accounted for at large spatial scales.
Project description:<h4>Aim</h4>Beta diversity describes the variation in species composition between sites and can be used to infer why different species occupy different parts of the globe. It can be viewed in a number of ways. First, it can be partitioned into two distinct patterns: turnover and nestedness. Second, it can be investigated from either a species identity or a functional-trait point of view. We aim to document for the first time how these two aspects of beta diversity vary in response to a large environmental gradient.<h4>Location</h4>Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains, southern Africa.<h4>Methods</h4>We sampled ant assemblages along an extensive elevational gradient (900-3000 m a.s.l.) twice yearly for 7 years, and collected functional-trait information related to the species' dietary and habitat-structure preferences. We used recently developed methods to partition species and functional beta diversity into their turnover and nestedness components. A series of null models were used to test whether the observed beta diversity patterns differed from random expectations.<h4>Results</h4>Species beta diversity was driven by turnover, but functional beta diversity was composed of both turnover and nestedness patterns at different parts of the gradient. Null models revealed that deterministic processes were likely to be responsible for the species patterns but that the functional changes were indistinguishable from stochasticity.<h4>Main conclusions</h4>Different ant species are found with increasing elevation, but they tend to represent an increasingly nested subset of the available functional strategies. This finding is unique and narrows down the list of possible factors that control ant existence across elevation. We conclude that diet and habitat preferences have little role in structuring ant assemblages in montane environments and that some other factor must be driving the non-random patterns of species turnover. This finding also highlights the importance of distinguishing between different kinds of beta diversity.