The Multiple Impacts of Tropical Forest Fragmentation on Arthropod Biodiversity and on their Patterns of Interactions with Host Plants.
ABSTRACT: Tropical rain forest fragmentation affects biotic interactions in distinct ways. Little is known, however, about how fragmentation affects animal trophic guilds and their patterns of interactions with host plants. In this study, we analyzed changes in biotic interactions in forest fragments by using a multitrophic approach. For this, we classified arthropods associated with Heliconia aurantiaca herbs into broad trophic guilds (omnivores, herbivores and predators) and assessed the topological structure of intrapopulation plant-arthropod networks in fragments and continuous forests. Habitat type influenced arthropod species abundance, diversity and composition with greater abundance in fragments but greater diversity in continuous forest. According to trophic guilds, coleopteran herbivores were more abundant in continuous forest and overall omnivores in fragments. Continuous forest showed a greater diversity of interactions than fragments. Only in fragments, however, did the arthropod community associated with H aurantiaca show a nested structure, suggesting novel and/or opportunistic host-arthropod associations. Plants, omnivores and predators contributed more to nestedness than herbivores. Therefore, Heliconia-arthropod network properties do not appear to be maintained in fragments mainly caused by the decrease of herbivores. Our study contributes to the understanding of the impact of fragmentation on the structure and dynamics of multitrophic arthropod communities associated with a particular plant species of the highly biodiverse tropical forests. Nevertheless, further replication of study sites is needed to strengthen the conclusion that forest fragmentation negatively affects arthropod assemblages.
Project description:Worldwide, native species increasingly contend with the interacting stressors of habitat fragmentation and invasive species, yet their combined effects have rarely been examined. Direct negative effects of invasive omnivores are well documented, but the indirect effects of resource competition or those caused by predator avoidance are unknown. Here we isolated and examined the independent and interactive effects of invasive omnivorous Black rats (Rattus rattus) and forest fragment size on the interactions between avian predators and their arthropod prey. Our study examines whether invasive omnivores and ecosystem fragment size impact: 1) the vertical distribution of arthropod species composition and abundance, and 2) the vertical profile of foraging behaviors of five native and two non-native bird species found in our study system. We predicted that the reduced edge effects and greater structural complexity and canopy height of larger fragments would limit the total and proportional habitat space frequented by rats and thus limit their impact on both arthropod biomass and birds' foraging behavior. We experimentally removed invasive omnivorous Black rats across a 100-fold (0.1 to 12 ha) size gradient of forest fragments on Hawai'i Island, and paired foraging observations of forest passerines with arthropod sampling in the 16 rat-removed and 18 control fragments. Rat removal was associated with shifts in the vertical distribution of arthropod biomass, irrespective of fragment size. Bird foraging behavior mirrored this shift, and the impact of rat removal was greater for birds that primarily eat fruit and insects compared with those that consume nectar. Evidence from this model study system indicates that invasive rats indirectly alter the feeding behavior of native birds, and consequently impact multiple trophic levels. This study suggests that native species can modify their foraging behavior in response to invasive species removal and presumably arrival through behavioral plasticity.
Project description:Human activity has extensively transformed the land surface by agricultural intensification and urbanization. In soil, nematodes are the most abundant invertebrates. The effect of human interventions was assessed on overall richness, overall abundance, richness and abundance of nematodes of each trophic group and colonizer-persister (c-p) guild by comparing urban, agriculture and disturbed grassland (DGL) with natural grassland (NGL) and forest ecosystems. Meta-analyses were conducted to generate quantitative summaries from 111 published articles that met the inclusion criteria, 91 expressed data in grams and 20 expressed data in cm3. Results from data expressed per 100?g of soil indicated that overall richness was higher in forest than in NGL, DGL, urban, and agriculture ecosystems. The richness of all c-p guilds and of all trophic groups except herbivores was highest in forest ecosystems. In contrast, overall abundance was highest in DGL, agriculture and forest ecosystems. The abundance of c-p 1, c-p 2 and c-p 3 guilds and bacterivores, fungivores and herbivores was highest in disturbed ecosystems, while the abundance of c-p 4 and c-p 5 guilds and predators and omnivores was highest in relatively undisturbed ecosystems. Results from data expressed as nematodes per 100?cm3 of soil indicated that abundance followed a similar pattern, but richness often differed between the two methodologies. These meta-analyses strengthen the concept that human interventions adversely impact both richness and abundance using nematodes as soil health bioindicators.Human activity has extensively transformed the land surface by agricultural intensification and urbanization. In soil, nematodes are the most abundant invertebrates. The effect of human interventions was assessed on overall richness, overall abundance, richness and abundance of nematodes of each trophic group and colonizer-persister (c-p) guild by comparing urban, agriculture and disturbed grassland (DGL) with natural grassland (NGL) and forest ecosystems. Meta-analyses were conducted to generate quantitative summaries from 111 published articles that met the inclusion criteria, 91 expressed data in grams and 20 expressed data in cm3. Results from data expressed per 100?g of soil indicated that overall richness was higher in forest than in NGL, DGL, urban, and agriculture ecosystems. The richness of all c-p guilds and of all trophic groups except herbivores was highest in forest ecosystems. In contrast, overall abundance was highest in DGL, agriculture and forest ecosystems. The abundance of c-p 1, c-p 2 and c-p 3 guilds and bacterivores, fungivores and herbivores was highest in disturbed ecosystems, while the abundance of c-p 4 and c-p 5 guilds and predators and omnivores was highest in relatively undisturbed ecosystems. Results from data expressed as nematodes per 100?cm3 of soil indicated that abundance followed a similar pattern, but richness often differed between the two methodologies. These meta-analyses strengthen the concept that human interventions adversely impact both richness and abundance using nematodes as soil health bioindicators.
Project description:Forest management not only affects biodiversity but also might alter ecosystem processes mediated by the organisms, i.e. herbivory the removal of plant biomass by plant-eating insects and other arthropod groups. Aiming at revealing general relationships between forest management and herbivory we investigated aboveground arthropod herbivory in 105 plots dominated by European beech in three different regions in Germany in the sun-exposed canopy of mature beech trees and on beech saplings in the understorey. We separately assessed damage by different guilds of herbivores, i.e. chewing, sucking and scraping herbivores, gall-forming insects and mites, and leaf-mining insects. We asked whether herbivory differs among different forest management regimes (unmanaged, uneven-aged managed, even-aged managed) and among age-classes within even-aged forests. We further tested for consistency of relationships between regions, strata and herbivore guilds. On average, almost 80% of beech leaves showed herbivory damage, and about 6% of leaf area was consumed. Chewing damage was most common, whereas leaf sucking and scraping damage were very rare. Damage was generally greater in the canopy than in the understorey, in particular for chewing and scraping damage, and the occurrence of mines. There was little difference in herbivory among differently managed forests and the effects of management on damage differed among regions, strata and damage types. Covariates such as wood volume, tree density and plant diversity weakly influenced herbivory, and effects differed between herbivory types. We conclude that despite of the relatively low number of species attacking beech; arthropod herbivory on beech is generally high. We further conclude that responses of herbivory to forest management are multifaceted and environmental factors such as forest structure variables affecting in particular microclimatic conditions are more likely to explain the variability in herbivory among beech forest plots.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Uncertainty persists over the environmental effects of genetically-engineered crops that produce the insecticidal Cry proteins of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). We performed meta-analyses on a modified public database to synthesize current knowledge about the effects of Bt cotton, maize and potato on the abundance and interactions of arthropod non-target functional guilds. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We compared the abundance of predators, parasitoids, omnivores, detritivores and herbivores under scenarios in which neither, only the non-Bt crops, or both Bt and non-Bt crops received insecticide treatments. Predators were less abundant in Bt cotton compared to unsprayed non-Bt controls. As expected, fewer specialist parasitoids of the target pest occurred in Bt maize fields compared to unsprayed non-Bt controls, but no significant reduction was detected for other parasitoids. Numbers of predators and herbivores were higher in Bt crops compared to sprayed non-Bt controls, and type of insecticide influenced the magnitude of the difference. Omnivores and detritivores were more abundant in insecticide-treated controls and for the latter guild this was associated with reductions of their predators in sprayed non-Bt maize. No differences in abundance were found when both Bt and non-Bt crops were sprayed. Predator-to-prey ratios were unchanged by either Bt crops or the use of insecticides; ratios were higher in Bt maize relative to the sprayed non-Bt control. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Overall, we find no uniform effects of Bt cotton, maize and potato on the functional guilds of non-target arthropods. Use of and type of insecticides influenced the magnitude and direction of effects; insecticde effects were much larger than those of Bt crops. These meta-analyses underscore the importance of using controls not only to isolate the effects of a Bt crop per se but also to reflect the replacement of existing agricultural practices. Results will provide researchers with information to design more robust experiments and will inform the decisions of diverse stakeholders regarding the safety of transgenic insecticidal crops.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>Theory predicts that habitat fragmentation, by reducing population size and increasing isolation among remnant populations, can alter their genetic diversity and structure. A cascade of effects is expected: genetic drift and inbreeding after a population bottleneck, changes in biotic interactions that may affect, as in the case of plants, pollen dynamics, mating system, reproductive success. The detection of the effects of contemporary habitat fragmentation on the genetic structure of populations are conditioned by the magnitude of change, given the few number of generations since the onset of fragmentation, especially for long-lived organisms. However, the present-day genetic structure of populations may bear the signature of past demography events. Here, we examine the effects of rainforest fragmentation on the genetic diversity, population structure, mating system (outcrossing rate), indirect gene flow and contemporary pollen dynamics in the understory herb <i>Aphelandra aurantiaca</i>. Also, we assessed its present-day genetic structure under different past demographic scenarios.<h4>Methods</h4>Twelve populations of <i>A. aurantiaca</i> were sampled in large (4), medium (3), and small (5) forest fragments in the lowland tropical rainforest at Los Tuxtlas region. Variation at 11 microsatellite loci was assessed in 28-30 reproductive plants per population. In two medium- and two large-size fragments we estimated the density of reproductive plants, and the mating system by analyzing the progeny of different mother plants per population.<h4>Results</h4>Despite prevailing habitat fragmentation, populations of <i>A. aurantiaca</i> possess high genetic variation (<i>H</i><sub><i>e</i></sub> = 0.61), weak genetic structure (<i>R</i><sub><i>st</i></sub> = 0.037), and slight inbreeding in small fragments. Effective population sizes (<i>N</i><sub><i>e</i></sub> ) were large, but slightly lower in small fragments. Migrants derive mostly from large and medium size fragments. Gene dispersal is highly restricted but long distance gene dispersal events were detected. <i>Aphelandra aurantiaca</i> shows a mixed mating system (<i>t</i><sub><i>m</i></sub> = 0.81) and the outcrossing rate have not been affected by habitat fragmentation. A strong pollen pool structure was detected due to few effective pollen donors (<i>N</i><sub><i>ep</i></sub> ) and low distance pollen movement, pointing that most plants received pollen from close neighbors. Past demographic fluctuations may have affected the present population genetic structure as Bayesian coalescent analysis revealed the signature of past population expansion, possibly during warmer conditions after the last glacial maximum.<h4>Discussion</h4>Habitat fragmentation has not increased genetic differentiation or reduced genetic diversity of <i>A. aurantiaca</i> despite dozens of generations since the onset of fragmentation in the region of Los Tuxtlas. Instead, past population expansion is compatible with the lack of observed genetic structure. The predicted negative effects of rainforest fragmentation on genetic diversity and population structure of <i>A. aurantiaca</i> seem to have been buffered owing to its large effective populations and long-distance dispersal events. In particular, its mixed-mating system, mostly of outcrossing, suggests high efficiency of pollinators promoting connectivity and reducing inbreeding. However, some results point that the effects of fragmentation are underway, as two small fragments showed higher membership probabilities to their population of origin, suggesting genetic isolation. Our findings underscore the importance of fragment size to maintain genetic connectivity across the landscape.
Project description:Closed-canopy forests are being rapidly fragmented across much of the tropical world. Determining the impacts of fragmentation on ecological processes enables better forest management and improves species-conservation outcomes. Lianas are an integral part of tropical forests but can have detrimental and potentially complex interactions with their host trees. These effects can include reduced tree growth and fecundity, elevated tree mortality, alterations in tree-species composition, degradation of forest succession, and a substantial decline in forest carbon storage. We examined the individual impacts of fragmentation and edge effects (0-100-m transect from edge to forest interior) on the liana community and liana-host tree interactions in rainforests of the Atherton Tableland in north Queensland, Australia. We compared the liana and tree community, the traits of liana-infested trees, and determinants of the rates of tree infestation within five forest fragments (23-58 ha in area) and five nearby intact-forest sites. Fragmented forests experienced considerable disturbance-induced degradation at their edges, resulting in a significant increase in liana abundance. This effect penetrated to significantly greater depths in forest fragments than in intact forests. The composition of the liana community in terms of climbing guilds was significantly different between fragmented and intact forests, likely because forest edges had more small-sized trees favoring particular liana guilds which preferentially use these for climbing trellises. Sites that had higher liana abundances also exhibited higher infestation rates of trees, as did sites with the largest lianas. However, large lianas were associated with low-disturbance forest sites. Our study shows that edge disturbance of forest fragments significantly altered the abundance and community composition of lianas and their ecological relationships with trees, with liana impacts on trees being elevated in fragments relative to intact forests. Consequently, effective control of lianas in forest fragments requires management practices which directly focus on minimizing forest edge disturbance.
Project description:The broad negative consequences of habitat degradation on biodiversity have been studied, but the complex effects of natural-agricultural landscape matrices remain poorly understood. Here we used stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes to detect changes in mammal resource and habitat use and trophic structure between preserved areas and human-modified landscapes (HMLs) in a biodiversity hot spot in South America. We classified mammals into trophic guilds and compared resource use (in terms of C3- and C4-derived carbon), isotopic niches, and trophic structure across the 2 systems. In HMLs, approximately one-third of individuals fed exclusively on items from the agricultural matrix (C4), while in preserved areas, ?68% depended on forest remnant resources (C3). Herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores were the guilds that most incorporated C4 carbon in HMLs. Frugivores maintained the same resource use between systems (C3 resources), while insectivores showed no significant difference. All guilds in HMLs except insectivores presented larger isotopic niches than those in preserved areas. We observed a complex trophic structure in preserved areas, with increasing ?15N values from herbivores to insectivores and carnivores, differing from that in HMLs. This difference is partially explained by species loss and turnover and mainly by the behavioral plasticity of resilient species that use nitrogen-enriched food items. We concluded that the landscape cannot be seen as a habitat/nonhabitat dichotomy because the agricultural landscape matrix in HMLs provides mammal habitat and opportunities for food acquisition. Thus, favorable management of the agricultural matrix and slowing the conversion of forests to agriculture are important for conservation in this region.
Project description:Urban and peri-urban agricultural (UPA) production systems in West African countries do not only mitigate food and financial insecurity, they may also foster biodiversity of arthropods and partly compensate for structural losses of natural environments. However, management practices in UPA systems like irrigation may also contribute to disturbances in arthropod ecology. To fill knowledge gaps in the relationships between UPA management and arthropod populations, we compared arthropods species across different irrigation sources in Tamale. During a 72-h sampling period, 14,226 arthropods were caught with pitfall traps and pan traps from 36 fields. These specimens comprised 13 orders, 103 families, 264 genera, and 329 taxa (243 identified species, 86 unidentified species) and categorized into five feeding guilds (carnivores, decomposers, herbivores, omnivores, and pollinators). Species richness, species accumulation curves, and diversity functions (richness, evenness, and dispersion) were calculated to characterize the arthropod community. Non-metric multidimensional scaling was applied to examine structural similarity of arthropod communities among sites. To account for the effects of soil-related data, we furthermore applied a redundancy analysis. Arthropods grouped according to the irrigation water source, whereby the dipterans were most dominant under wastewater conditions. Here, particularly the eye gnat, Hippelates pusio, a disease-causing vector for humans, accounted for the dipterans. The occurrence of three alien ant species suggested community shifts through invasive species, while the occurrence of seven ant species (at least one ant species occurred under each water source) that form mutualistic relationships with aphids highlighted future risks of aphid pest outbreak. Future studies on these taxa should specifically target their ecological and economic effects and potential countermeasures.
Project description:Diet is commonly assumed to affect the evolution of species, but few studies have directly tested its effect at macroevolutionary scales. Here we use Bayesian models of trait-dependent diversification and a comprehensive dietary database of all birds worldwide to assess speciation and extinction dynamics of avian dietary guilds (carnivores, frugivores, granivores, herbivores, insectivores, nectarivores, omnivores and piscivores). Our results suggest that omnivory is associated with higher extinction rates and lower speciation rates than other guilds, and that overall net diversification is negative. Trait-dependent models, dietary similarity and network analyses show that transitions into omnivory occur at higher rates than into any other guild. We suggest that omnivory acts as macroevolutionary sink, where its ephemeral nature is retrieved through transitions from other guilds rather than from omnivore speciation. We propose that these dynamics result from competition within and among dietary guilds, influenced by the deep-time availability and predictability of food resources.
Project description:Urban expansion has caused major deforestation and forest fragmentation in the tropics. The impacts of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity are understudied in urban forest patches, especially in the tropics and little is known on the conservation value of the patches for maintaining mammalian biodiversity. In this study, camera trapping was used to determine the species composition and species richness of medium- and large-sized mammals in three urban forest patches and a contiguous forest in Peninsular Malaysia. We identified the key vegetation attributes that predicted mammal species richness and occurrence of herbivores and omnivores in urban forest patches. A total number of 19 mammal species from 120 sampling points were recorded. Contiguous forest had the highest number of species compared to the urban forest patches. Sunda Pangolin and Asian Tapir were the only conservation priority species recorded in the urban forest patches and contiguous forest, respectively. Top predators such as Malayan Tiger and Melanistic Leopard were completely absent from the forest patches as well as the contiguous forest. This was reflected by the abundance of wild boars. We found that mammal species richness increased with the number of trees with DBH less than 5 cm, trees with DBH more than 50 cm, and dead standing trees. In the future, the remaining mammal species in the urban forest patches are expected to be locally extinct as connecting the urban forest patches may be infeasible due to land scarcity. Hence, to maintain the ecological integrity of urban forest patches, we recommend that stakeholders take intervention measures such as reintroduction of selected species and restocking of wild populations in the urban forest patches to regenerate the forest ecosystems.