Influence of clay licks on the diversity and structure of an Amazonian forest

Molina E., Espelta J.M., Pino J., Bagaria G., Armenteras D. (2018) Influence of clay licks on the diversity and structure of an Amazonian forest. Biotropica. 50: 740-749.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/btp.12568

Abstract:

The spatial heterogeneity of resource availability is a major driver of biodiversity patterns. Some environmental conditions and resources are characterized by large-scale patterns of variation within the landscape. Clumped local discontinuities or discrete elements also increase spatial heterogeneity, promoting local ‘biodiversity hot spots’ by modifying habitat characteristics and promoting plant–animal interactions. Clay licks are faunal attractors owing to their role in the nutritional ecology of the user species; nevertheless, the effect of their presence on the surrounding vegetation has been poorly quantified. Here, we use data from 100 × 10 m transects and evaluate the effects of the presence of clay licks on forest diversity and structure at local and landscape scales. In clay lick areas, there was a higher abundance of certain species, which helps to homogenize species composition between localities counteracting the natural distance-decay of compositional similarity between transects without clay lick influence (controls). Compared to control sites, clay lick′s forests had higher palm densities, shorter but more variable individuals in the canopy and understory, a thinner canopy layer, and denser herbaceous and ground level covers. These differences were found along the whole length of transects in both sampled areas types. These results reveal that the presence of discrete elements (i.e., clay licks) may help to explain the compositional and structural heterogeneity of Amazonian forests influencing ecological processes such as seed dispersal and trampling. These considerations may be relevant for other biomes where clay licks are present and give weight to their inclusion in conservation initiatives in tropical forests. © 2018 The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation

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