Partitioning the impact of environment and spatial structure on alpha and beta components of taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diversity in European ants

Arnan X., Cerdá X., Retana J. (2015) Partitioning the impact of environment and spatial structure on alpha and beta components of taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diversity in European ants. PeerJ. 2015: 0-0.
Link
Doi: 10.7717/peerj.1241

Abstract:

We analyze the relative contribution of environmental and spatial variables to the alpha and beta components of taxonomic (TD), phylogenetic (PD), and functional (FD) diversity in ant communities found along different climate and anthropogenic disturbance gradients across western and central Europe, in order to assess the mechanisms structuring ant biodiversity. To this aim we calculated alpha and beta TD, PD, and FD for 349 ant communities, which included a total of 155 ant species; we examined 10 functional traits and phylogenetic relatedness. Variation partitioning was used to examine how much variation in ant diversity was explained by environmental and spatial variables. Autocorrelation in diversity measures and each trait's phylogenetic signal were also analyzed.We found strong autocorrelation in diversity measures. Both environmental and spatial variables significantly contributed to variation in TD, PD, and FD at both alpha and beta scales; spatial structure had the larger influence. The different facets of diversity showed similar patterns along environmental gradients. Environment explained a much larger percentage of variation in FD than in TD or PD. All traits demonstrated strong phylogenetic signals. Our results indicate that environmental filtering and dispersal limitations structure all types of diversity in ant communities. Strong dispersal limitations appear to have led to clustering of TD, PD, and FD in western and central Europe, probably because different historical and evolutionary processes generated different pools of species. Remarkably, these three facets of diversity showed parallel patterns along environmental gradients. Trait-mediated species sorting and niche conservatism appear to structure ant diversity, as evidenced by the fact that more variation was explained for FD and that all traits had strong phylogenetic signals. Since environmental variables explained much more variation in FD than in PD, functional diversity should be a better indicator of community assembly processes than phylogenetic diversity. © 2015 Arnan et al.

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Climate mediates the effects of disturbance on ant assemblage structure

Gibb H., Sanders N.J., Dunn R.R., Watson S., Photakis M., Abril S., Andersen A.N., Angulo E., Armbrecht I., Arnan X., Baccaro F.B., Bishop T.R., Boulay R., Castracani C., Del Toro I., Delsinne T., Diaz M., Donoso D.A., Enriquez M.L., Fayle T.M., Feener D.H., Fitzpatrick M.C., Gomez C., Grasso D.A., Groc S., Heterick B., Hoffmann B.D., Lach L., Lattke J., Leponce M., Lessard J.-P., Longino J., Lucky A., Majer J., Menke S.B., Mezger D., Mori A., Munyai T.C., Paknia O., Pearce-Duvet J., Pfeiffer M., Philpott S.M., De Souza J.L.P., Tista M., Vasconcelos H.L., Vonshak M., Parr C.L. (2015) Climate mediates the effects of disturbance on ant assemblage structure. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 282: 0-0.
Link
Doi: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0418

Abstract:

Many studies have focused on the impacts of climate change on biological assemblages, yet little is known about howclimate interacts with other major anthropogenic influences on biodiversity, such as habitat disturbance. Using a unique global database of 1128 local ant assemblages, we examined whether climate mediates the effects of habitat disturbance on assemblage structure at a global scale. Species richness and evenness were associated positively with temperature, and negatively with disturbance. However, the interaction among temperature, precipitation and disturbance shaped species richness and evenness. The effectwas manifested through a failure of species richness to increase substantially with temperature in transformed habitats at low precipitation. At low precipitation levels, evenness increased with temperature in undisturbed sites, peaked at medium temperatures in disturbed sites and remained low in transformed sites. In warmer climates with lower rainfall, the effects of increasing disturbance on species richness and evenness were akin to decreases in temperature of up to 98C. Anthropogenic disturbance and ongoing climate change may interact in complicated ways to shape the structure of assemblages, with hot, arid environments likely to be at greatest risk. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

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Local and landscape effects in a host-parasitoid interaction network along a forest-cropland gradient

Osorio S., Arnan X., Bassols E., Vicens N., Bosch J. (2015) Local and landscape effects in a host-parasitoid interaction network along a forest-cropland gradient. Ecological Applications. 25: 1869-1879.
Link
Doi: 10.1890/14-2476.1

Abstract:

Land-use driven habitat modification is a major driver of biodiversity loss and impoverishment of interaction diversity. This may affect ecosystem services such as pollination and biological control. Our objective is to analyze the effects of local (nesting environment: farms vs. tree stands) and landscape (forest-cropland gradient) factors on the structure and composition of a cavity-nesting bee-wasp (CNBW) community, their nests associates (henceforth parasitoids), and their interactions. We set up 24 nest-trapping stations in a fragmented, extensively farmed area of ∼100 km2. We obtained 2035 nests containing 7572 brood cells representing 17 bee and 18 wasp species, attacked by 20 parasitoid species. Community structure and composition, as well as network structure, were much more dependent on local than on landscape factors. Host abundance and richness were higher in farms. In addition, host abundance was positively correlated to cropland cover. We also found highly significant differences between nesting environments in host community composition. Structure and composition of the parasitoid community were conditioned by the structure and composition of the host community. Network structure was affected by nesting environment but not by landscape factors. Interactions tended to be more diverse in farms. This result was mostly explained by differences in network size (greater in farms). However, generality was significantly higher in farms even after controlling for network size, indicating that differences in species' interaction patterns associated to differences in community composition between the two nesting environments are also affecting network structure. In conclusion, open habitats associated with extensively farmed exploitations favor local CNBW diversity (especially bees) and result in more complex host-parasitoid interaction networks in comparison to forested areas. The conservation value of this kind of open habitat is important in view of the progressive abandonment of extensively cultivated farmland taking place in Europe at the expense of agricultural intensification and reforestation. © 2015 by the Ecological Society of America.

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Post-fire forestry management improves fruit weight and seed set in forest coppices dominated by Arbutus unedo L.

Quevedo L., Arnan X., Rodrigo A. (2015) Post-fire forestry management improves fruit weight and seed set in forest coppices dominated by Arbutus unedo L.. Forest Ecology and Management. 345: 65-72.
Link
Doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2015.02.030

Abstract:

In Mediterranean ecosystems, post-fire forestry management practices are often used to improve forest structure and to reduce the risk of fire in coppices of resprouting species. Such practices enhance tree growth (i.e., height), probably because they release resources. On the one hand, resource release may stimulate reproduction. On the other hand, tree species that are regenerating after a fire may already face a delay in reproduction, and this delay may be lengthened if species mainly invest these additional resources in growth. Within this theoretical framework, it is poorly understood how different forest management practices affect the reproductive abilities of forest species. In this study, we analyzed the effect of two post-fire forestry treatments (selective thinning of resprouts and selective thinning of resprouts plus understory clearing) on a Mediterranean coppice dominated by the resprouter species Arbutus unedo L.; in particular, we examined how the treatments affected this species' reproductive ability (flower and fruit production at the tree and stand level, as well as fruit characteristics). Our results show that the treatments had no effects on the number of flowers and mature fruits per individual. Meanwhile, mature fruit dry mass and seed set were greater in plots that had been both thinned and cleared than in control plots and plots that had only been thinned. This pattern was reversed for seed abortion rate: it was lower in plots that had been thinned and cleared. The dry mass of developed seeds did not differ among treatments. At the stand level, the percentage of strawberry trees that flowered, the percentage of strawberry trees that bore fruit, the dry biomass of mature fruits per hectare, and the number of developed seeds per hectare were not affected by these treatments. Other studies have shown that these two forest management practices can improve the vertical and horizontal structure of A. unedo coppices that are regenerating post fire; this study demonstrates that selective thinning does not modify the species' reproductive success and, such practice when combined with understory clearing might enhance it. Consequently, these forestry practices might ensure the natural regeneration of populations of this species, as well as the availability of food for local fauna. It is thus highly recommended that such practices be used to manage coppices dominated by resprouter species following fire, especially in situations where the growth of the forest canopy has stagnated and/or reproduction of forest species has been delayed. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

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A multidimensional functional trait analysis of resource exploitation in European ants

Retana J., Arnan X., Cerdá X. (2015) A multidimensional functional trait analysis of resource exploitation in European ants. Ecology. 96: 2781-2793.
Link
Doi: 10.1890/14-2326.1

Abstract:

The major factors explaining ecological variation in plants have been widely discussed over the last decade thanks to numerous studies that have examined the covariation that exists between pairs of traits. However, multivariate relationships among traits remain poorly characterized in animals. In this study, we aimed to identify the main multivariate trait dimensions that explain variance in important functional traits related to resource exploitation in ants. To this end, we created a large ant trait database. This database includes information on 11 traits that are important in ant resource exploitation; data were obtained for 150 European species found in different biomes. First, we examined the pairwise correlations between the traits included in the database. Second, we used multivariate analyses to identify potential trait dimensions. Our study shows that, to a great extent, resource exploitation strategies align along two main trait dimensions. The first dimension emerged in both the overall and group-specific analyses, where it accounted for the same pairwise trait correlations. The second dimension was more variable, as species were grouped by levels of taxonomy, habitat, and climate. These two dimensions included most of the significant pairwise trait correlations, thus highlighting that complementarity, but also redundancy, exists among different pairs of traits. The first dimension was associated with behavioral dominance: dominance was associated with large colony size, presence of multiple nests per colony, worker polymorphism, and a collective foraging strategy. The second dimension was associated with resource partitioning along dietary and microhabitat lines: it ranged from species that consume liquid foods, engage in group foraging, and mainly nest in the vegetation to species that consume insects and seeds, engage in individual foraging, and demonstrate strictly diurnal activity. Our findings establish a proficient ecological trait-based animal research that minimizes the number of traits to be measured while maximizing the number of relevant trait dimensions. Overall, resource exploitation in animals might be framed by behavioral dominance, foraging strategy, diet, and nesting habitat; the position of animal species within this trait space could provide relevant information about their distribution and abundance, for today as well as under future global change scenarios. © 2015 by the Ecological Society of America.

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Pre-wintering conditions and post-winter performance in a solitary bee: Does diapause impose an energetic cost on reproductive success?

Sgolastra F., Arnan X., Pitts-Singer T.L., Maini S., Kemp W.P., Bosch J. (2015) Pre-wintering conditions and post-winter performance in a solitary bee: Does diapause impose an energetic cost on reproductive success?. Ecological Entomology. : 0-0.
Link
Doi: 10.1111/een.12292

Abstract:

1. Diapause is a dynamic process of low metabolic activity that allows insects to survive periods of harsh conditions. Notwithstanding the lowered metabolism, and because diapausing insects have no access to food, diapause has an energetic cost that may affect post-diapause performance. 2. Previous studies on the solitary bee Osmia lignaria have shown that prolonged pre-wintering periods (the time during which individuals already in diapause remain at warm temperatures) are associated with elevated lipid consumption, fat body depletion, and body weight loss. The present study investigated whether prolonged pre-wintering also affects reproduction, i.e. whether the costs associated with diapause could have an effect on post-diapause performance in this species. 3. Females were exposed to a range of pre-wintering conditions, and ovary development and individual post-wintering performance were monitored throughout their adult life span. 4. No evidence of an effect of pre-wintering duration on post-diapause reproductive success was found. Expected differences in the timing of establishment were not observed because ovary maturation was, surprisingly, not arrested during pre-wintering. Prolonged pre-wintering duration did not result in decreased life span, probably because emerging females could rapidly replenish their metabolic reserves through feeding. However, there was a very strong effect of the duration of the pre-emergence period on the likelihood of nest establishment. 5. Longevity, the main factor determining fecundity in Osmia, is subjected to high levels of intrinsic variability, even among females of similar size exposed to identical conditions during development and nesting. © 2015 The Royal Entomological Society.

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