Uncoupling the effects of shade and food resources of vegetation on Mediterranean ants: An experimental approach at the community level

Arnan X., Rodrigo A., Retana J. (2007) Uncoupling the effects of shade and food resources of vegetation on Mediterranean ants: An experimental approach at the community level. Ecography. 30: 161-172.
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Doi: 10.1111/j.2006.0906-7590.04796.x

Resum:

Vegetation is one of the main factors affecting the composition and structure of ant communities. The effect of vegetation is both by offering food resources and by modifying the proportion of ground cover exposed to shade conditions. However, it is difficult in field studies to uncouple the effects of food resources and shade on animal communities. The goal of this study was to analyze experimentally the effects of vegetation through food and shade supply on the structure and composition of a Mediterranean ant community. We have crossed these two factors in a factorial design where we have eliminated vegetation in experimental treatments and we have simulated the effects of vegetation by manipulating separately the supply of food resources and shade. The expected decrease in ant abundance and richness in plots without food resources but with shade was only partially confirmed by the results, because there was a decrease in the number of ant species but not a significant decrease in overall ant abundance in plots without food resources. We did not confirm the second hypothesis that the decrease in shade while maintaining food resources resulted in an increase of heat-tolerant, subordinate species and, consequently, ant richness. Species composition differed in the different experimental treatments. Stress-tolerant species were abundant in areas without shade and without food resources. Heat-tolerant species were mainly present in plots without shade but with food resources. Finally, species with high requirements of shade and/or food resources were associated to control plots with both shade and food resources from vegetation. Overall, this study provides an experiment that uncouples experimentally shade and food resources and dissects their effects on the whole ant community, and shows that the effects of the two factors are independent and affect different components of ant community structure and composition. Copyright © Ecography 2007.

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Post-fire regeneration of Mediterranean plant communities at a regional scale is dependent on vegetation type and dryness

Arnan X., Rodrigo A., Retana J. (2007) Post-fire regeneration of Mediterranean plant communities at a regional scale is dependent on vegetation type and dryness. Journal of Vegetation Science. 18: 111-122.
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Doi: 10.1658/1100-9233(2007)18[111:PROMPC]2.0.CO;2

Resum:

Question: We tested whether (1) the change in composition and structure of whole plant communities after fire is directly related to regeneration of the dominant tree species in the canopy; (2) the change in structure and composition of plant communities several years after fire decreases with the proportion of obligate seeders and (3) the proportion of obligate seeders in plant communities increases with the dryness gradient. Location: Catalonia (NE Spain). Methods: We measured floristic differences between burned and long-since burned sites in eight vegetation types across a climate gradient. We compared 22 sites burnt in 1994 in paired plots with 22 sites that had not been burnt since the 1940s. In each site we placed plots in burned and long-since burned areas, where we identified the presence and abundance of all plant species. Results: When the tree canopy recovers, structure and composition of the vegetation also return to the long-since burned community; when tree canopy does not recover, composition of the post-fire community varies compared to the long-since burned one. A higher proportion of obligate seeders in the pre-fire community promotes quicker regeneration of the original community. The proportion of obligate seeders increased along the dryness gradient. Conclusions: Regeneration of plant communities after fire depends on the vegetation type before the fire. Regeneration increases when the dominant tree or shrub species persists after fire and with a higher proportion of obligate seeders in the pre-fire community. The proportion of obligate seeders varies along the dryness gradient, which suggests that vegetation in drier areas (when seeders are more abundant) recovers earlier than in moister areas. © IAVS; Opulus Press.

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