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Food resource exploitation and functional resilience in ant communities found in common Mediterranean habitats.

Arnan, Xavier and Molowny-Horas, Roberto and Blüthgen, Nico (2019):
Food resource exploitation and functional resilience in ant communities found in common Mediterranean habitats.
684, In: The Science of the total environment, pp. 126-135. ISSN 1879-1026,
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.05.260,
[Article]

Abstract

Understanding how ecosystems may cope with future environmental change is a key challenge in modern ecology. Ecosystem resilience depends on both functional redundancy (the number of species making a similar contribution to a given ecosystem function) and response diversity (variability in the responses of functionally similar species to disturbance). Ants provide numerous important ecosystem functions that are rooted in their dietary ecology. We focused on food resource exploitation and analyzed how functional redundancy and response diversity changed across common habitats for Mediterranean ant communities. Our aim was to assess the vulnerability of ant-furnished ecosystem functions to future environmental change. We used cafeteria experiments to identify ant functional groups: we offered ants a variety of seeds, insects, and liquid sugars. Then, using more general baits, we estimated ant species richness and abundance. We also examined 12 ant traits (morphological, social, ecobehavioral, and physiological) thought to reflect responses to disturbance. We found that most Mediterranean ant species are dietary generalists. Functional redundancy was highest and lowest for sugar and seed consumers, respectively, a consistent trend across habitats that was unrelated to species richness. Response diversity did not depend on ant functional group. Interestingly, both functional redundancy and response diversity were higher in pine forests and shrublands than in oak forests, a pattern that was consistent regardless of whether the functional groups were examined collectively or individually. Variation in functional redundancy and response diversity was strongly driven by site-specific species richness. Response diversity also varied based on trait type. Ecosystem functions mediated by seed-consuming ants should be the most vulnerable to environmental change, and habitat type and local species richness should affect the vulnerability of any ecosystem functions mediated by ant dietary ecology. Species-poor communities in forests should be the most vulnerable, while species-rich communities in open habitats should be the most resilient.

Item Type: Article
Erschienen: 2019
Creators: Arnan, Xavier and Molowny-Horas, Roberto and Blüthgen, Nico
Title: Food resource exploitation and functional resilience in ant communities found in common Mediterranean habitats.
Language: English
Abstract:

Understanding how ecosystems may cope with future environmental change is a key challenge in modern ecology. Ecosystem resilience depends on both functional redundancy (the number of species making a similar contribution to a given ecosystem function) and response diversity (variability in the responses of functionally similar species to disturbance). Ants provide numerous important ecosystem functions that are rooted in their dietary ecology. We focused on food resource exploitation and analyzed how functional redundancy and response diversity changed across common habitats for Mediterranean ant communities. Our aim was to assess the vulnerability of ant-furnished ecosystem functions to future environmental change. We used cafeteria experiments to identify ant functional groups: we offered ants a variety of seeds, insects, and liquid sugars. Then, using more general baits, we estimated ant species richness and abundance. We also examined 12 ant traits (morphological, social, ecobehavioral, and physiological) thought to reflect responses to disturbance. We found that most Mediterranean ant species are dietary generalists. Functional redundancy was highest and lowest for sugar and seed consumers, respectively, a consistent trend across habitats that was unrelated to species richness. Response diversity did not depend on ant functional group. Interestingly, both functional redundancy and response diversity were higher in pine forests and shrublands than in oak forests, a pattern that was consistent regardless of whether the functional groups were examined collectively or individually. Variation in functional redundancy and response diversity was strongly driven by site-specific species richness. Response diversity also varied based on trait type. Ecosystem functions mediated by seed-consuming ants should be the most vulnerable to environmental change, and habitat type and local species richness should affect the vulnerability of any ecosystem functions mediated by ant dietary ecology. Species-poor communities in forests should be the most vulnerable, while species-rich communities in open habitats should be the most resilient.

Journal or Publication Title: The Science of the total environment
Volume: 684
Divisions: 10 Department of Biology
10 Department of Biology > Ecological Networks
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2019 05:41
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.05.260
Identification Number: pmid:31153062
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