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

Read more

Of niche differentiation, dispersal ability and historical legacies: What drives woody community assembly in recent Mediterranean forests?

Basnou C., Vicente P., Espelta J.M., Pino J. (2015) Of niche differentiation, dispersal ability and historical legacies: What drives woody community assembly in recent Mediterranean forests?. Oikos. : 0-0.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/oik.02534

Abstract:

Community assembly rules have been extensively studied, but its association with regional environmental variation and land use history remains largely unexplored. Land use history might be especially important in Mediterranean forests, considering their historical deforestation and recent afforestation. Using forest inventories and historical (1956) and recent (2000) land cover maps, we explored the following hypotheses: 1) woody species assembly is driven by environmental factors, but also by historical landscape attributes; 2) recent forests exhibit lower woody species richness than pre-existing due to the existence of colonization credits; 3) these credits are modulated by species' life-forms and dispersal mechanisms. We examined the association of forest historical type (pre-existing versus recent) with total species richness and that of diverse life-forms and dispersal groups, also considering the effects of current environment and past landscape factors. When accounting for these effects, no significant differences in woody species richness were found between forest historical types except for vertebrate-dispersed species. Species richness of this group was affected by the interaction of forest historical type with distance to coast and rainfall: vertebrate-dispersed species richness increased with rainfall and distance to the coast in recent forests, while it was higher in dryer sites in pre-existing forests. In addition, forest historical types showed differences in woody species composition associated to diverse environmental and past landscape factors. In view of these results we can conclude that: 1) community assembly in terms of species richness is fast enough to exhaust most colonization credit in recent Mediterranean forests except for vertebrate-dispersed species; 2) for these species, colonization credit is affected by the interplay of forest history and a set of proxies of niche and landscape constraints of species dispersal and establishment; 3) woody species assemblage is mostly shaped by the species' ecological niches in these forests. © 2015 The Authors.

Read more