How predictable are the responses of ant and dung beetle assemblages to patch and landscape attributes in fragmented tropical forest landscapes?
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One of the most effective means of evaluating the effects of habitat loss and landscape configuration is to assess the response of bioindicators. The present study aimed to verify which parameters of ant and dung beetle communities (species richness, abundance, unbiased Shannon diversity, and turnover rates) are most useful for evaluating the relative influence of small forest patches (< 50 ha) and landscape in the tropical rainforest of Los Tuxtlas, Mexico. We recorded a total of 106 species of ants and 30 species of dung beetle. The ant and dung beetle assemblages were related in different ways to patch and landscape attributes. Hypogeic ants were more sensitive to patch attributes, particularly vegetation composition, compared to landscape attributes. Epigeic ant assemblages are likely a disturbance indicator, or the assemblages have already homogenized across the region. Arboreal ant assemblages were particularly sensitive to fragmentation and responded to within-patch vegetation and landscape configuration. Dung beetles were more sensitive to landscape composition than to patch attributes. Given these findings, the biomonitoring of ants and dung beetles should focus on both patch and landscape attributes in fragmented landscapes to maintain the different ecosystem functions provided by them.
KeywordsFormicidae Los Tuxtlas Scarabaeinae Tree assemblages Stratification strata
We thank Dr. Rosamond Coates Lutes from Estación de Biología Los Tuxtlas of the National Autonomous University of Mexico for her assistance during the fieldwork. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the anonymous referees and Dr. M. Favila, who contributed toward the first version of this manuscript. We are grateful to Allison Jermain, who kindly reviewed the manuscript and gave useful suggestions. Finally, this work is dedicated in loving memory to Ramón Rocha.
Both M. R.-O. and H. C.-A. received a master’s fellowship from CONACyT for the duration of this study.
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