Do community and food-web metrics temporally change in tropical systems? Responses from a four-trophic level food web
Most research reports changes in biological communities and environmental stability by using community estimators (e.g. species richness and relative abundance) and food-web metrics (e.g. connectance and vulnerability), yet only a few studies have examined how both community and food-web estimators temporally change in tropical terrestrial environments. Here, we sampled 1399 fruits and 12,647 seeds from the climbing shrub Senegalia tenuifolia (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) across eight fragments in three areas of Brazilian savannah sampled annually during 4 years to assess the temporal variation within community and food-web metrics commonly used in the tropical research. While resource availability and the abundance of insects from the second and third trophic levels changed with time, species richness from all trophic levels and food-web metrics remained temporally stable. We found that α-diversity was the most important diversity-component influencing the herbivore communities when partitioning the diversity using raw species richness and the Shannon entropy, while for parasitoids the contributions of α and ß varied. These findings provide insights into the temporal variation of terrestrial food webs, while highlighting the need for further research considering both community metrics and food-web estimators to better understand the stability of tropical environments. We bring empirical evidence that communities within plant–herbivore–parasitoid networks may be dynamic, but food-web metrics are likely to remain temporally stable within undisturbed environments.
KeywordsDiversity partition Leguminous plant Trophic levels Temporal variation Food-web metrics Parasitoids
We are grateful to Cibele S. Ribeiro-Costa, Antônio C.M. de Queiroz and Maria Santini C. Morini for helping in the insect identification. We thank Lisiane Zanella for providing the map used in the manuscript. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on the manuscript. We thank Universidade Federal de Lavras and PPG in Applied Ecology for logistical support. L.F.M. thanks the Minas Gerais Research Foundation (FAPEMIG) and Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) for grants and financial support. L.D.B.F thanks FAPEMIG and the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq: 306196/2018-2) for financial support and grants. FMF is grateful to NERC (NE/P004512/1), CAPES (grants: BEX5528/13-5; Prevfogo-IBAMA 441949/2018-5), CNPq-PELD (441659/2016-0), and MCIC/CNPq (420254/2018-8) for the grants during the development of this research. A.R.N. thanks the CNPq (INCT:380986/2018-3) for the grant.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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