Guardiola M., Stefanescu C., Rod F., Pino J. (2018) Do asynchronies in extinction debt affect the structure of trophic networks? A case study of antagonistic butterfly larvae–plant networks. Oikos. 127: 803-813.LinkDoi: 10.1111/oik.04536
Habitat loss and fragmentation affect species richness in fragmented habitats and can lead to immediate or time-delayed species extinctions. Asynchronies in extinction and extinction debt between interacting species may have severe effects on ecological networks. However, these effects remain largely unknown. We evaluated the effects of habitat patch and landscape changes on antagonistic butterfly larvae–plant trophic networks in Mediterranean grasslands in which previous studies had shown the existence of extinction debt in plants but not in butterflies. We sampled current species richness of habitat-specialist and generalist butterflies and vascular plants in 26 grasslands. We assessed the direct effects of historical and current patch and landscape characteristics on species richness and on butterfly larvae–plant trophic network metrics and robustness. Although positive species- and interactions–area relationships were found in all networks, structure and robustness was only affected by patch and landscape changes in networks involving the subset of butterfly specialists. Larger patches had more species (butterflies and host plants) and interactions but also more compartments, which decreased network connectance but increased network stability. Moreover, most likely due to the rescue effect, patch connectivity increased host-plant species (but not butterfly) richness and total links, and network robustness in specialist networks. On the other hand, patch area loss decreased robustness in specialist butterfly larvae–plant networks and made them more prone to collapse against host plant extinctions. Finally, in all butterfly larvae–plant networks we also detected a past patch and landscape effect on network asymmetry, which indicates that there were different extinction rates and extinction debts for butterflies and host plants. We conclude that asynchronies in extinction and extinction debt in butterfly–plant networks provoked by patch and landscape changes caused changes in species richness and network links in all networks, as well as changes in network structure and robustness in specialist networks. © 2017 The Authors
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.LinkDoi: 10.1111/btp.12568
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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