Habitat determinants of abundance, structure and composition of flying Hymenoptera communities in mountain old-growth forests

Arnan X., Bosch J., Comas L., Gracia M., Retana J. (2011) Habitat determinants of abundance, structure and composition of flying Hymenoptera communities in mountain old-growth forests. Insect Conservation and Diversity. 4: 200-211.
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Doi: 10.1111/j.1752-4598.2010.00123.x

Resum:

1.Old-growth forests have features that endow them with an extraordinary ecological value. These forests are sources of habitat diversity and, consequently, biodiversity, which makes them a basic objective of conservation programs. Insects have been traditionally used as indicators of forest condition. 2.The aim of this study is to uncover patterns of Hymenoptera abundance and diversity, and their relationship with structural features in old-growth forests. We use pan traps to sample the community of flying Hymenoptera in two old-growth forest types (silver fir and mountain pine) with important structural differences. 3.Compared to other surveys of local Hymenoptera communities, our sampling yielded an extremely high number of species (630). 4.At the plot level, the two forest types showed important differences in family richness and diversity, but not in abundance or in species richness and diversity. However, variability in species richness was higher among pine than silver fir plots, leading to overall higher species richness in the former. 5.Species composition also differed between pine than silver fir forests, and these differences were related to important structural differences between the two forest types. 6.Canonical correspondence and multiple regression analysis yielded contrasting habitat requirements among Hymenoptera families and functional groups (bees, sawflies, parasitic wasps and predatory wasps). 7.We conclude that flying Hymenoptera communities can be used as good indicators of forest structure, habitat complexity and conservation status. © 2010 The Authors. Insect Conservation and Diversity © 2010 The Royal Entomological Society.

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What are the consequences of ant-seed interactions on the abundance of two dry-fruited shrubs in a Mediterranean scrub?

Arnan X., Rodrigo A., Retana J. (2011) What are the consequences of ant-seed interactions on the abundance of two dry-fruited shrubs in a Mediterranean scrub?. Oecologia. 167: 1027-1039.
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Doi: 10.1007/s00442-011-2034-9

Resum:

Strong interactions between dry-fruited shrubs and seed-harvesting ants are expected in early successional scrubs, where both groups have a major presence. We have analysed the implications of the seed characteristics of two dry-fruited shrub species (Coronilla minima and Dorycnium pentaphyllum) on seed predation and dispersal mediated by harvester ants and the consequences of these processes on spatio-temporal patterns of plant abundance in a heterogeneous environment. We found that large C. minima seeds were collected much more (39%) than small D. pentaphyllum seeds (2%). However, not all of the removed seeds of these plant species were consumed, and 12.8% of the seeds were lost along the trails, which increased dispersal distances compared with abiotic dispersal alone. Seed dropping occurred among all microhabitats of the two plant species, but especially in open microhabitats, which are the most suitable ones for plant establishment. The two plant species increased their presence in the study area during the study period: C. minima in open microhabitats and D. pentaphyllum in high vegetation. The large size of C. minima seeds probably limited the primary seed dispersal of this species, but may have allowed strong interaction with ants. Thus, seed dispersal by ants resulted in C. minima seeds reaching more suitable microhabitats by means of increasing dispersal distance and redistribution among microhabitats. In contrast, the smaller size of D. pentaphyllum seeds arguably allows abiotic seed dispersal over longer distances and colonization of all types of microhabitats, although it probably also limits their interaction with ants and, consequently, their redistribution in suitable microhabitats. We suggest that dyszoochory could contribute to the success of plant species with different seed characteristics in scrub habitats where seeds are abundantly collected by seed-harvesting ants. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.

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