Shade coffee plantations have received attention for their role in biodiversity conservation. Bats are among the most diverse mammalian taxa in these systems; however, previous studies of bats in coffee plantations have focused on the largely herbivorous leaf-nosed bats (Phyllostomidae). In contrast, we have virtually no information on how ensembles of aerial insectivorous bats – nearly half the Neotropical bat species – change in response to habitat modification. To evaluate the effects of agroecosystem management on insectivorous bats, we studied their diversity and activity in southern Chiapas, Mexico, a landscape dominated by coffee agroforestry. We used acoustic monitoring and live captures to characterize the insectivorous bat ensemble in forest fragments and coffee plantations differing in the structural and taxonomic complexity of shade trees. We captured bats of 12 non-phyllostomid species; acoustic monitoring revealed the presence of at least 12 more species of aerial insectivores. Richness of forest bats was the same across all land-use types; in contrast, species richness of open-space bats increased in low shade, intensively managed coffee plantations. Conversely, only forest bats demonstrated significant differences in ensemble structure (as measured by similarity indices) across land-use types. Both overall activity and feeding activity of forest bats declined significantly with increasing management intensity, while the overall activity, but not feeding activity, of open-space bats increased. We conclude that diverse shade coffee plantations in our study area serve as valuable foraging and commuting habitat for aerial insectivorous bats, and several species also commute through or forage in low shade coffee monocultures.
Native forests are shrinking worldwide, causing a loss of biological diversity. Our ability to prioritize forest conservation actions is hampered by a lack of information about the relative impacts of different types of forest loss on biodiversity. In particular, we lack rigorous comparisons of the effects of clearing forests for tree plantations and for human settlements, two leading causes of deforestation worldwide. We compared avian diversity in forests, plantations and exurban areas on the Cumberland Plateau, USA, an area of global importance for biodiversity. By combining field surveys with digital habitat databases, and then analyzing diversity at multiple scales, we found that plantations had lower diversity and fewer conservation priority species than did other habitats. Exurban areas had higher diversity than did native forests, but native forests outscored exurban areas for some measures of conservation priority. Overall therefore, pine plantations had impoverished avian communities relative to both native forests and to exurban areas. Thus, reports on the status of forests give misleading signals about biological diversity when they include plantations in their estimates of forest cover but exclude forested areas in which humans live. Likewise, forest conservation programs should downgrade incentives for plantations and should include settled areas within their purview.
Forest management under a changing climate requires assessing the effects of climate warming and disturbance on the composition, age structure, and spatial patterns of tree species. We investigated these effects on a boreal forest in northeastern China using a factorial experimental design and simulation modeling. We used a spatially explicit forest landscape model (LANDIS) to evaluate the effects of three independent variables: climate (current and expected future), fire regime (current and increased fire), and timber harvesting (no harvest and legal harvest). Simulations indicate that this forested landscape would be significantly impacted under a changing climate. Climate warming would significantly increase the abundance of most trees, especially broadleaf species (aspen, poplar, and willow). However, climate warming would have less impact on the abundance of conifers, diversity of forest age structure, and variation in spatial landscape structure than burning and harvesting. Burning was the predominant influence in the abundance of conifers except larch and the abundance of trees in mid-stage. Harvesting impacts were greatest for the abundance of larch and birch, and the abundance of trees during establishment stage (1–40 years), early stage (41–80 years) and old- growth stage (>180 years). Disturbance by timber harvesting and burning may significantly alter forest ecosystem dynamics by increasing forest fragmentation and decreasing forest diversity. Results from the simulations provide insight into the long term management of this boreal forest.
Balancing forest harvesting and restoration is critical for forest ecosystem management. In this study, we used LANDIS, a spatially explicit forest landscape model, to evaluate the effects of 21 alternative forest management initiatives which were drafted for forests in the upstream region of the Hun River in northeastern China. These management initiatives included a wide range of planting and harvest intensities for Pinus koraiensis, the historically dominant tree species in the region. Multivariate analysis of variance, Shannon's Diversity Index, and planting efficiency (which indicates how many cells of the target species at the final year benefit from per-cell of the planting trees) estimates were used as indicators to analyze the effects of planting and harvesting regimes on forests in the region. The results showed that the following: (1) Increased planting intensity, although augmenting the coverage of P. koraiensis, was accompanied by decreases in planting efficiency and forest diversity. (2) While selective harvesting could increase forest diversity, the abrupt increase of early succession species accompanying this method merits attention. (3) Stimulating rapid forest succession may not be a good management strategy, since the climax species would crowd out other species which are likely more adapted to future climatic conditions in the long run. In light of the above, we suggest a combination of 30% planting intensity with selective harvesting of 50% and 70% of primary and secondary timber species, respectively, as the most effective management regime in this area. In the long run this would accelerate the ultimate dominance of P. koraiensis in the forest via a more effective rate of planting, while maintaining a higher degree of forest diversity. These results are particularly useful for forest managers constrained by limited financial and labor resources who must deal with conflicts between forest harvesting and restoration.
Land use change is a major threat to global biodiversity. Forest species face the dual threats of deforestation and intensification of forest management. In regions where forests are under threat, rural landscapes that retain structural components of mature forests potentially provide valuable additional habitat for some forest species. Here, we illustrate the habitat value of traditional wood pastures for a woodpecker assemblage of six species in southern Transylvania, Romania. Wood pastures are created by long-term stable silvo-pastoral management practices, and are composed of open grassland with scattered large, old trees. Because of their demanding habitat requirements, woodpeckers share habitat with many other bird species, and have been considered as possible indicator species for bird species diversity. We first compared woodpecker assemblages between forests and wood pastures. Second, we grouped features of wood pastures into three spatial contexts and addressed how these features related to the occurrence of three woodpecker species that are formally protected. Woodpecker species composition, but not the number of species, differed between forests and wood pastures, with the green woodpecker occurring more commonly in wood pastures, and the lesser spotted woodpecker more commonly in forests. Within wood pastures, the intermediate context (especially surrounding forest cover) best explained the presence of the grey-headed and middle spotted woodpecker. By contrast, variables describing local vegetation structure and characteristics of the surrounding landscape did not affect woodpecker occurrence in wood pastures. In contrast to many other parts of Europe, in which several species of woodpeckers have declined, the traditional rural landscape of Transylvania continues to provide habitat for several woodpecker species, both in forests and wood pastures. Given the apparent habitat value of wood pastures for woodpeckers we recommend wood pastures be explicitly considered in relevant policies of the European Union, namely the Habitats Directive and the EU Common Agricultural Policy.
The conversion of natural forest to oil palm plantation is a major current threat to the conservation of biodiversity in South East Asia. Most animal taxa decrease in both species richness and abundance on conversion of forest to oil palm, and there is usually a severe loss of forest species. The extent of loss varies significantly across both different taxa and different microhabitats within the oil palm habitat. The principal driver of this loss in diversity is probably the biological and physical simplification of the habitat, but there is little direct evidence for this. The conservation of forest species requires the preservation of large reserves of intact forest, but we must not lose sight of the importance of conserving biodiversity and ecosystem processes within the oil palm habitat itself. We urgently need to carry out research that will establish whether maintaining diversity supports economically and ecologically important processes. There is some evidence that both landscape and local complexity can have positive impacts on biodiversity in the oil palm habitat. By intelligent manipulation of habitat complexity, it could be possible to enhance not only the number of species that can live in oil palm plantations but also their contribution to the healthy functioning of this exceptionally important and widespread landscape.
oil palm; Elaeis spp.; biodiversity; ecosystem function; ecosystem service; habitat complexity
Tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia are facing increasing and ever more intense human disturbance that often negatively affects biodiversity. The aim of this study was to determine how tree species phylogenetic diversity is affected by traditional forest management types and to understand the change in community phylogenetic structure during succession. Four types of forests with different management histories were selected for this purpose: old growth forests, understorey planted old growth forests, old secondary forests (∼200-years after slash and burn), and young secondary forests (15–50-years after slash and burn). We found that tree phylogenetic community structure changed from clustering to over-dispersion from early to late successional forests and finally became random in old-growth forest. We also found that the phylogenetic structure of the tree overstorey and understorey responded differentially to change in environmental conditions during succession. In addition, we show that slash and burn agriculture (swidden cultivation) can increase landscape level plant community evolutionary information content.
The proliferation of oil palm plantations has led to dramatic changes in tropical landscapes across the globe. However, relatively little is known about the effects of oil palm expansion on biodiversity, especially in key ecosystem-service providing organisms like pollinators. Rapid land use change is exacerbated by limited knowledge of the mechanisms causing biodiversity decline in the tropics, particularly those involving landscape features. We examined these mechanisms by undertaking a survey of orchid bees, a well-known group of Neotropical pollinators, across forest and oil palm plantations in Costa Rica. We used chemical baits to survey the community in four regions: continuous forest sites, oil palm sites immediately adjacent to forest, oil palm sites 2km from forest, and oil palm sites greater than 5km from forest. We found that although orchid bees are present in all environments, orchid bee communities diverged across the gradient, and community richness, abundance, and similarity to forest declined as distance from forest increased. In addition, mean phylogenetic distance of the orchid bee community declined and was more clustered in oil palm. Community traits also differed with individuals in oil palm having shorter average tongue length and larger average geographic range size than those in the forest. Our results indicate two key features about Neotropical landscapes that contain oil palm: 1) oil palm is selectively permeable to orchid bees and 2) orchid bee communities in oil palm have distinct phylogenetic and trait structure compared to communities in forest. These results suggest that conservation and management efforts in oil palm-cultivating regions should focus on landscape features.
Lianas (woody vines) are increasing in neotropical forests, representing one of the first large-scale structural changes documented for these important ecosystems. The potential ramifications of increasing lianas are huge, as lianas alter both tropical forest diversity and ecosystem functioning. At the community level, lianas affect tree species co-existence and diversity by competing more intensely with some tree species than others, and thus will likely alter tree species composition. At the ecosystem level, lianas affect forest carbon and nutrient storage and fluxes. A decrease in forest carbon storage and sequestration may be the most important ramification of liana increases. Lianas reduce tree growth and increase tree mortality—thus reducing forest-level carbon storage. The increase in lianas, which have much less wood than trees, compensates only partially for the amount of carbon lost in the displaced trees. Because tropical forests contribute approximately one-third of global terrestrial carbon stocks and net primary productivity, the effect of increasing lianas for tropical forest carbon cycles may have serious repercussions at the global scale.
carbon cycle; CO2; disturbance; global change; land use change; liana increases; structural changes; tropical forests
In northern Sweden, the availability of arboreal lichens (Bryoria fuscescens, Alectoria sarmentosa) as winter grazing resources is an important element in reindeer husbandry. With the industrialization of forestry, forests rich in arboreal lichens have diminished considerably. Here, we analyze how forestry has impacted lichen availability from the 1920's to the present day and model its future development assuming different forest management scenarios.
We recorded the current occurrence of B. fuscescens in 144 sampling plots, stratified by forest age class and dominant tree species in a 26,600 ha boreal forest landscape that is used for both reindeer herding and forestry. Lichen abundance was visually estimated in four classes: none, sparse, moderate and abundant. A binary logistic model using forest age as the independent variable was developed to predict the probability of lichens being present. Using this model, we found that lichens were present in stands that are at least 63 years old. Because of the relative paucity of stands rich in arboreal lichens, it was not possible to reliably determine how age affects the variation in abundance of older forest stands. The historical development of forests where arboreal lichens could potentially occur was studied using historic forestry records dating back 80 years. Between 1926 and the present day, forestry has reduced the cover of forests older than 60 years from 84% to 34%. The likely future spatial coverage of these stands over the next 120 years was estimated for two different management scenarios and an unmanaged reference scenario, using the Heureka strategic planning program. Under both the “business as usual” scenario and that involving more intensive forestry, continued decreases in lichen availability are projected. Our results emphasize the importance of alternative forestry practices, such as prolonged rotation periods, to increase the availability of arboreal lichens as a grazing resource for reindeer.
Conversion of tropical forests into agriculture may present a serious risk to amphibian diversity if amphibians are not able to use agricultural areas as habitat. Recently, in Xishuangbanna Prefecture, Yunnan Province – a hotspot of frog diversity within China – two-thirds of the native tropical rainforests have been converted into rubber plantation agriculture. We conducted surveys and experiments to quantify habitat use for breeding and non-breeding life history activities of the native frog species in rainforest, rubber plantation and other human impacted sites. Rubber plantation sites had the lowest species richness in our non-breeding habitat surveys and no species used rubber plantation sites as breeding habitat. The absence of breeding was likely not due to intrinsic properties of the rubber plantation pools, as our experiments indicated that rubber plantation pools were suitable for tadpole growth and development. Rather, the absence of breeding in the rubber plantation was likely due to a misalignment of breeding and non-breeding habitat preferences. Analyses of our breeding surveys showed that percent canopy cover over pools was the strongest environmental variable influencing breeding site selection, with species exhibiting preferences for pools under both high and low canopy cover. Although rubber plantation pools had high canopy cover, the only species that bred in high canopy cover sites used the rainforest for both non-breeding and breeding activities, completing their entire life cycle in the rainforest. Conversely, the species that did use the rubber plantation for non-breeding habitat preferred to breed in low canopy sites, also avoiding breeding in the rubber plantation. Rubber plantations are likely an intermediate habitat type that ‘slips through the cracks’ of species habitat preferences and is thus avoided for breeding. In summary, unlike the rainforests they replaced, rubber plantations alone may not be able to support frog populations.
As a result of past practices, many of the dry coniferous forests of the western United States contain dense, even-aged stands with uncharacteristically high levels of litter and downed woody debris. These changes to the forest have received considerable attention as they elevate concerns regarding the outcome of wildland fire. However, attempts to reduce biomass through fuel reduction (i.e., thinning of trees) are often opposed by public interest groups whose objectives include maintaining habitat for species of concern such as the spotted owl, Strix occidentalis, the northern goshawk, Accipiter gentilis, and the Pacific fisher, Martes pennanti. Whether protection of these upper-trophic level species confers adequate conservation of avian forest diversity is unknown.
Methodology and Principal Findings
We use a multi-species occurrence model to estimate the habitat associations of 47 avian species detected at 742 sampling locations within an 880-km2 area in the Sierra Nevada. Our approach, which accounts for variations in detectability of species, estimates occurrence probabilities of all species in a community by linking species occurrence models into one hierarchical community model, thus improving inferences on all species, especially those that are rare or observed infrequently. We address how the avian community is influenced by covariates related to canopy cover, tree size and shrub cover while accounting for the impacts of abiotic variables known to affect species distributions.
Conclusions and Significance
Environmental parameters estimated through our approach emphasize the importance of within and between stand-level heterogeneity in meeting biodiversity objectives and suggests that many avian species would increase under more open canopy habitat conditions than those favored by umbrella species of high conservation concern. Our results suggest that a more integrated approach that emphasizes maintaining a diversity of habitats across environmental gradients and minimizing urbanization may have a greater benefit to ecosystem functioning then a single-species management focus.
Oak decline is a process induced by complex interactions of predisposing factors, inciting factors, and contributing factors operating at tree, stand, and landscape scales. It has greatly altered species composition and stand structure in affected areas. Thinning, clearcutting, and group selection are widely adopted harvest alternatives for reducing forest vulnerability to oak decline by removing susceptible species and declining trees. However, the long-term, landscape-scale effects of these different harvest alternatives are not well studied because of the limited availability of experimental data. In this study, we applied a forest landscape model in combination with field studies to evaluate the effects of the three harvest alternatives on mitigating oak decline in a Central Hardwood Forest landscape. Results showed that the potential oak decline in high risk sites decreased strongly in the next five decades irrespective of harvest alternatives. This is because oak decline is a natural process and forest succession (e.g., high tree mortality resulting from intense competition) would eventually lead to the decrease in oak decline in this area. However, forest harvesting did play a role in mitigating oak decline and the effectiveness varied among the three harvest alternatives. The group selection and clearcutting alternatives were most effective in mitigating oak decline in the short and medium terms, respectively. The long-term effects of the three harvest alternatives on mitigating oak decline became less discernible as the role of succession increased. The thinning alternative had the highest biomass retention over time, followed by the group selection and clearcutting alternatives. The group selection alternative that balanced treatment effects and retaining biomass was the most viable alternative for managing oak decline. Insights from this study may be useful in developing effective and informed forest harvesting plans for managing oak decline.
In terrestrial ecosystems, ecological processes and patterns within focal patches frequently depend on their matrix. Crop fields (focal patches) are often surrounded by a mosaic of other land-use types (matrix), which may act as habitats for organisms and differ in terms of the immigration activities of organisms to the fields. We examined whether matrix quality affects wild pollinator abundance in crop fields, given that the species (Apis cerana) generally nest in the cavities of natural trees. We examined fields of a pollination-dependent crop surrounded by plantations and natural forests, which comprised the matrix. Our analysis revealed a clear positive effect of the natural forest on the pollinator abundance, but the plantation forest had little effects. These indicate that agricultural patches are influenced by their matrix quality and the resulting crop pollinator abundance, suggesting the importance of matrix management initiatives such as forest restoration surrounding agricultural fields to improve crop production.
Although highly weathered soils cover considerable areas in tropical regions, little is known about exploration by roots in deep soil layers. Intensively managed Eucalyptus plantations are simple forest ecosystems that can provide an insight into the belowground growth strategy of fast-growing tropical trees. Fast exploration of deep soil layers by eucalypt fine roots may contribute to achieving a gross primary production that is among the highest in the world for forests. Soil exploration by fine roots down to a depth of 10 m was studied throughout the complete cycle in Eucalyptus grandis plantations managed in short rotation. Intersects of fine roots, less than 1 mm in diameter, and medium-sized roots, 1–3 mm in diameter, were counted on trench walls in a chronosequence of 1-, 2-, 3.5-, and 6-year-old plantations on a sandy soil, as well as in an adjacent 6-year-old stand growing in a clayey soil. Two soil profiles were studied down to a depth of 10 m in each stand (down to 6 m at ages 1 and 2 years) and 4 soil profiles down to 1.5–3.0 m deep. The root intersects were counted on 224 m2 of trench walls in 15 pits. Monitoring the soil water content showed that, after clear-cutting, almost all the available water stored down to a depth of 7 m was taken up by tree roots within 1.1 year of planting. The soil space was explored intensively by fine roots down to a depth of 3 m from 1 year after planting, with an increase in anisotropy in the upper layers throughout the rotation. About 60% of fine root intersects were found at a depth of more than 1 m, irrespective of stand age. The root distribution was isotropic in deep soil layers and kriged maps showed fine root clumping. A considerable volume of soil was explored by fine roots in eucalypt plantations on deep tropical soils, which might prevent water and nutrient losses by deep drainage after canopy closure and contribute to maximizing resource uses.
root front; root growth; root density; Eucalyptus; forest; oxisol; tropical tree; Brazil
During a period of three years (2006–2008) the carabid fauna in wet and humid forest habitats of different stages of succession was studied at the Puszcza Knyszynska (north-east part of Poland). The aim of this study was to determine how the assemblages of the carabid fauna change in relation to the ongoing process of succession. Using pitfall traps, 24 plots were sampled. The plots were located in stands of different age, from two year old plantations to more than 100 year old forests. Additionally, the stands were ordered in three moisture classes (wet, humid and very humid) and two classes of soil richness. As indicators for change in the carabid fauna in relation to age of the stands Mean Individual Biomass (MIB), species diversity and share of forest species were used. By applying multivariate statistics the relation of the different habitat characteristics to changes in the carabid fauna was examined. During the study 8903 individuals belonging to 57 species were collected. Pterostichus niger represented 28% of the total catches and therefore the most common species. Another common species, Pterostichus melanarius, contributed to 13% of the total catch. This species was caught at every plot, even in the old forests. In contrast to the results obtained by Szyszko (1990) for fresh and dry pine stands, in this study the relation of MIB with the age of forest was not significant. Although the number of species was rather constant, the number of individuals belonging to the group of forest species significantly increased with the ageing of the forest. The multivariate analysis showed a relationship with ageing of the stands and soil richness rather than with moisture and size of the forest. According to the present paper, clear cuttings in wet and humid habitats do not cause a strong degradation of the carabid fauna.
Carabidae; Puszcza Knyszyńska; process of succession; wet and humid; forest habitats; Mean Individual Biomass
Most forest tree species exhibit high levels of genetic diversity that can be used to trace the origin of living plants or their products such as timber and processed wood. Recent progress to isolate DNA not only from living tissue but also from wood and wood products offers new opportunities to test the declared origin of material such as seedlings for plantation establishment or timber. However, since most forest tree populations are weakly differentiated, the identification of genetic markers to differentiate among spatially isolated populations is often difficult and time consuming. Two important fields of “forensic” applications are described: Molecular tools are applied to test the declared origin of forest reproductive material used for plantation establishment and of internationally traded timber and wood products. These applications are illustrated taking examples from Germany, where mechanisms have been developed to improve the control of the trade with forest seeds and seedlings, and from the trade with wood of the important Southeast Asian tree family Dipterocarpaceae. Prospects and limitations of the use of molecular genetic methods to conclude on the origin of forest plants, wood, and wood products are discussed.
DNA marker; Genetic fingerprint; Forensic application; Forest reproductive material; Tropical timber; Dipterocarpaceae
Forests occur across diverse biomes, each of which shows a specific composition of plant communities associated with the particular climate regimes. Predicted future climate change will have impacts on the vulnerability and productivity of forests; in some regions higher temperatures will extend the growing season and thus improve forest productivity, while changed annual precipitation patterns may show disadvantageous effects in areas, where water availability is restricted. While adaptation of forests to predicted future climate scenarios has been intensively studied, less attention was paid to mitigation strategies such as the introduction of tree species well adapted to changing environmental conditions.
We simulated the development of managed forest ecosystems in Germany for the time period between 2000 and 2100 under different forest management regimes and climate change scenarios. The management regimes reflect different rotation periods, harvesting intensities and species selection for reforestations. The climate change scenarios were taken from the IPCC's Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES). We used the scenarios A1B (rapid and successful economic development) and B1 (high level of environmental and social consciousness combined with a globally coherent approach to a more sustainable development). Our results indicate that the effects of different climate change scenarios on the future productivity and species composition of German forests are minor compared to the effects of forest management.
The inherent natural adaptive capacity of forest ecosystems to changing environmental conditions is limited by the long life time of trees. Planting of adapted species and forest management will reduce the impact of predicted future climate change on forests.
1.Insect herbivory can strongly affect ecosystem processes, and its relationship with plant diversity is a central topic in biodiversity–functioning research. However, very little is known about this relationship from complex ecosystems dominated by long-lived individuals, such as forests, especially over gradients of high plant diversity.
2.We analysed insect herbivory on saplings of 10 tree and shrub species across 27 forest stands differing in age and tree species richness in an extraordinarily diverse subtropical forest ecosystem in China. We tested whether plant species richness significantly influences folivory in these highly diverse forests or whether other factors play a more important role at such high levels of phytodiversity.
3.Leaf damage was assessed on 58 297 leaves of 1284 saplings at the end of the rainy season in 2008, together with structural and abiotic stand characteristics.
4.Species-specific mean damage of leaf area ranged from 3% to 16%. Herbivory increased with plant species richness even after accounting for potentially confounding effects of stand characteristics, of which stand age-related aspects most clearly covaried with herbivory. Intraspecific density dependence or other abiotic factors did not significantly influence overall herbivory across forest stands.
5.Synthesis.The positive herbivory–plant diversity relationship indicates that effects related to hypotheses of resource concentration, according to which a reduction in damage by specialized herbivores might be expected as host plant concentration decreases with increasing plant diversity, do not seem to be major determinants for overall herbivory levels in our phytodiverse subtropical forest ecosystem. We discuss the potential role of host specificity of dominant herbivores, which are often expected to show a high degree of specialization in many (sub)tropical forests. In the forest system we studied, a much higher impact of polyphagous species than traditionally assumed might explain the observed patterns, as these species can profit from a broad dietary mix provided by high plant diversity. Further testing is needed to experimentally verify this assumption.
BEF China; biodiversity; ecosystem functioning; Gutianshan; resource concentration; succession; trophic interactions; Zhejiang
Most studies on frugivorous bat assemblages in secondary forests have concentrated on differences among successional stages, and have disregarded the effect of forest management. Secondary forest management practices alter the vegetation structure and fruit availability, important factors associated with differences in frugivorous bat assemblage structure, and fruit consumption and can therefore modify forest succession. Our objective was to elucidate factors (forest structural variables and fruit availability) determining bat diversity, abundance, composition and species-specific abundance of bats in (i) secondary forests managed by Lacandon farmers dominated by Ochroma pyramidale, in (ii) secondary forests without management, and in (iii) mature rain forests in Chiapas, Southern Mexico. Frugivorous bat species diversity (Shannon H’) was similar between forest types. However, bat abundance was highest in rain forest and O. pyramidale forests. Bat species composition was different among forest types with more Carollia sowelli and Sturnira lilium captures in O. pyramidale forests. Overall, bat fruit consumption was dominated by early-successional shrubs, highest late-successional fruit consumption was found in rain forests and more bats consumed early-successional shrub fruits in O. pyramidale forests. Ochroma pyramidale forests presented a higher canopy openness, tree height, lower tree density and diversity of fruit than secondary forests. Tree density and canopy openness were negatively correlated with bat species diversity and bat abundance, but bat abundance increased with fruit abundance and tree height. Hence, secondary forest management alters forests’ structural characteristics and resource availability, and shapes the frugivorous bat community structure, and thereby the fruit consumption by bats.
Seasonally dry tropical forests (SDTF) are characterized by pronounced seasonality in rainfall, and as a result trees in these forests must endure seasonal variation in soil water availability. Furthermore, SDTF on the northern Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, have a legacy of disturbances, thereby creating a patchy mosaic of different seral stages undergoing secondary succession. We examined the water status of six canopy tree species, representing contrasting leaf phenology (evergreen vs. drought-deciduous) at three seral stages along a fire chronosequence in order to better understand strategies that trees use to overcome seasonal water limitations. The early-seral forest was characterized by high soil water evaporation and low soil moisture, and consequently early-seral trees exhibited lower midday bulk leaf water potentials (ΨL) relative to late-seral trees (−1.01 ± 0.14 and −0.54 ± 0.07 MPa, respectively). Although ΨL did not differ between evergreen and drought-deciduous trees, results from stable isotope analyses indicated different strategies to overcome seasonal water limitations. Differences were especially pronounced in the early-seral stage where evergreen trees had significantly lower xylem water δ18O values relative to drought-deciduous trees (−2.6 ± 0.5 and 0.3 ± 0.6‰, respectively), indicating evergreen species used deeper sources of water. In contrast, drought-deciduous trees showed greater enrichment of foliar 18O (∆18Ol) and 13C, suggesting lower stomatal conductance and greater water-use efficiency. Thus, the rapid development of deep roots appears to be an important strategy enabling evergreen species to overcome seasonal water limitation, whereas, in addition to losing a portion of their leaves, drought-deciduous trees minimize water loss from remaining leaves during the dry season.
Groundwater; Resource partitioning; Stable isotopes; Water-use efficiency; Yucatan Peninsula
Loss and alteration of habitats by human actions are the largest worldwide hazard to biodiversity and viability of populations. In boreal forests of Eurasia and North America the natural habitat is changing, mainly because of forestry practices and agriculture. Although there is evidence that the diversity and abundance of animal species are lower in intensively managed than in natural forests, very little is known about how the changes in habitat composition affect reproduction and survival. The best available measure of individual performance in the wild is lifetime reproductive success (LRS), the number of offspring produced during a lifetime, because it combines both survival and reproductive success to a single measure. We show that the LRS of forest-dwelling Tengmalm's owls (Aegolius funereus) increases with the proportion of old forest in the territory because of a higher number of breeding attempts, whereas it decreases with the proportion of agricultural land because of declining fledging success in years when prey populations crashed during owl breeding. These unique results provide an interesting insight into how human influence on the landscape can affect life-history traits of animals through various pathways.
In healthy forests, vertebrate frugivores move seeds from intact to degraded forests, aiding in the passive regeneration of degraded forests. Yet vertebrate frugivores are declining around the world, and little is known about the impact of this loss on regeneration of degraded areas. Here, we use a unique natural experiment to assess how complete vertebrate frugivore loss affects native seed rain in degraded forest. All native vertebrate frugivores (which were primarily avian frugivores) have been functionally extirpated from the island of Guam by the invasive brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis), whereas the nearby island of Saipan has a relatively intact vertebrate frugivore community. We captured seed rain along transects extending from intact into degraded forest and compared the species richness, density and condition of the seed rain from native bird-dispersed tree species between the two islands. Considering seeds from native bird-dispersed species, approximately 1.66 seeds landed per 26 days in each square meter of degraded forest on Saipan, whereas zero seeds landed per 26 days per square meter in degraded forest on Guam. Additionally, on Saipan, 69% of native bird-dispersed seeds in intact forest and 77% of seeds in degraded forest lacked fleshy fruit pulp, suggesting ingestion by birds, compared to 0% of all seeds on Guam. Our results show an absence of seed rain in degraded forests on Guam, correlated with the absence of birds, whereas on Saipan, frugivorous birds regularly disperse seeds into degraded forests, providing a mechanism for re-colonization by native plants. These results suggest that loss of frugivores will slow regeneration of degraded forests on Guam.
Terrestrial isopods were collected in 13 forest fragments differing in area (within the range of 0.1 and 254.5 ha), shape and composition of forest vegetation (thermophilous oak, mesophilous oak-hornbeam, thermophilous oak-hornbeam, acidophilous oak, basiphilous oak, beech oak-hornbeam, moist mixed deciduous forest, plantations of deciduous and coniferous trees), all situated in the Český kras Protected Landscape Area, Czech Republic, Central Europe. Number of sites sampled in each fragment of forest depended on its size and ranged from 1 to 7. Altogether 30 sites were sampled. Soil samples (5 per site collected twice a year) and pitfall trapping (5 traps per site in continuous operation throughout a year) during 2008–2009 yielded a total of 14 species of terrestrial isopods. The highest densities and highest epigeic activities of terrestrial isopods were recorded in the smallest fragments of woodland. Although a wider range of habitats were sampled in the larger fragments of woodland there was not a greater diversity of species there and the population densities and epigeic activities recorded there were lower. Porcellium collicola was most abundant in small fragments of woodland regardless the vegetation there. Armadillidium vulgare and Protracheoniscus politus were statistically more abundant in the larger fragments of woodland. The results indicate that forest fragmentation does not necessarily result in a decrease in the species richness of the isopod assemblages in such habitats.
Woodlice; densities; epigeic activity; pitfall trapping; Armadillidium vulgare; Porcellium collicola
The main objective of this study was to shed light on the previously unknown arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) communities in Southern Arabia. We explored AMF communities in two date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) plantations and the natural vegetation of their surrounding arid habitats. The plantations were managed traditionally in an oasis and according to conventional guidelines at an experimental station. Based on spore morphotyping, the AMF communities under the date palms appeared to be quite diverse at both plantations and more similar to each other than to the communities under the ruderal plant, Polygala erioptera, growing at the experimental station on the dry strip between the palm trees, and to the communities uncovered under the native vegetation (Zygophyllum hamiense, Salvadora persica, Prosopis cineraria, inter-plant area) of adjacent undisturbed arid habitat. AMF spore abundance and species richness were higher under date palms than under the ruderal and native plants. Sampling in a remote sand dune area under Heliotropium kotschyi yielded only two AMF morphospecies and only after trap culturing. Overall, 25 AMF morphospecies were detected encompassing all study habitats. Eighteen belonged to the genus Glomus including four undescribed species. Glomus sinuosum, a species typically found in undisturbed habitats, was the most frequently occurring morphospecies under the date palms. Using molecular tools, it was also found as a phylogenetic taxon associated with date palm roots. These roots were associated with nine phylogenetic taxa, among them eight from Glomus group A, but the majority could not be assigned to known morphospecies or to environmental sequences in public databases. Some phylogenetic taxa seemed to be site specific. Despite the use of group-specific primers and efficient trapping systems with a bait plant consortium, surprisingly, two of the globally most frequently found species, Glomus intraradices and Glomus mosseae, were not detected neither as phylogenetic taxa in the date palm roots nor as spores under the date palms, the intermediate ruderal plant, or the surrounding natural vegetation. The results highlight the uniqueness of AMF communities inhabiting these diverse habitats exposed to the harsh climatic conditions of Southern Arabia.
Date palm; Arbuscular mycorrhiza; Biodiversity; Natural vegetation; Dry land; Desert; Oasis; Southern Arabia