Alpha and beta diversity of plants and animals along a tropical land-use gradient

Albrecht-von-Haller-Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Göttingen, 37073 Göttingen, Germany.
Ecological Applications (Impact Factor: 4.09). 12/2009; 19(8):2142-56. DOI: 10.1890/08-1074.1
Source: PubMed


Assessing the overall biological diversity of tropical rain forests is a seemingly insurmountable task for ecologists. Therefore, researchers frequently sample selected taxa that they believe reflect general biodiversity patterns. Usually, these studies focus on the congruence of alpha diversity (the number of species found per sampling unit) between taxa rather than on beta diversity (turnover of species assemblages between sampling units). Such approaches ignore the potential role of habitat heterogeneity that, depending on the taxonomic group considered, can greatly enhance beta diversity at local and landscape scales. We compared alpha and beta diversity of four plant groups (trees, lianas, terrestrial herbs, epiphytic liverworts) and eight animal groups (birds, butterflies, lower canopy ants, lower canopy beetles, dung beetles, bees, wasps, and the parasitoids of the latter two) at 15 sites in Sulawesi, Indonesia, that represented natural rain forest and three types of cacao agroforests differing in management intensity. In total, we recorded 863 species. Patterns of species richness per study site varied strongly between taxonomic groups. Only 13-17% of the variance in species richness of one taxonomic group could be predicted from the species richness of another, and on average 12-18% of the variance of beta diversity of a given group was predicted by that in other groups, although some taxon pairs had higher values (up to 76% for wasps and their parasitoids). The degree of congruence of patterns of alpha diversity was not influenced by sampling completeness, whereas the indicator value for beta diversity improved when using a similarity index that accounts for incomplete sampling. The indication potential of alpha diversity for beta diversity and vice versa was limited within taxa (7-20%) and virtually nil between them (0-4%). We conclude that different taxa can have largely independent patterns of alpha diversity and that patterns of beta diversity can be more congruent. Thus, conservation plans on a landscape scale need to put more emphasis on the high heterogeneity of agroforests and the overarching role of beta diversity shaping overall diversity patterns.

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    • "Species turnover can alter the taxonomic or functional distinctness of communities without changing the overall number of species. For example , if a few closely related species are replaced by species that have no close relatives in the community (see also Kessler et al. 2009) or if functionally similar species are replaced by species with one or more exceptional traits (Mayfield et al. 2010). All analyzed arthropod taxa were characterized by a higher functional distinctness in taxonomically more distinct communities if analyzed independent of land-use type or intensity. "
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    ABSTRACT: Land-use change is a major driver of the global loss of biodiversity, but it is unclear to what extent this also results in a loss of ecological traits. Therefore, a better understanding of how land-use change affects ecological traits is crucial for efforts to sustain functional diversity. To this end we tested whether higher species richness or taxonomic distinctness generally leads to increased functional distinctness and whether intensive land use leads to functionally more narrow arthropod communities. We compiled species composition and trait data for 350 species of terrestrial arthropods (Araneae, Carabidae and Heteroptera) in different land-use types (forests, grasslands and arable fields) of low and high land-use intensity. We calculated the average functional and taxonomic distinctness and the rarified trait richness for each community. These measures reflect the range of traits, taxonomic relatedness and number of traits that are observed in local communities. Average functional distinctness only increased significantly with species richness in Carabidae communities. Functional distinctness increased significantly with taxonomic distinctness in communities of all analyzed taxa suggesting a high functional redundancy of taxonomically closely related species. Araneae and Heteroptera communities had the expected lower functional distinctness at sites with higher land-use intensity. More frequently disturbed land-use types such as managed grasslands or arable fields were characterized by species with smaller body sizes and higher dispersal abilities and communities with lower functional distinctness or trait richness. Simple recommendations about the conservation of functional distinctness of arthropod communities in the face of future land-use intensification and species loss are not possible. Our study shows that these relationships depend on the studied taxa and land-use type. However, for some arthropod groups functional distinctness is threatened by intensification and conversion from less to more frequently disturbed land-uses.
    Ecography 09/2015; 38(9). DOI:10.1111/ecog.01141 · 4.77 Impact Factor
    • "gamma-diversity) and that may drive biogeographical gradients in beta-diversity (Myers et al., 2013) are not of special concern. We measured beta-diversity in our set of 10 Â 10 km squares as the mean (Legendre et al., 2005) of the dissimilarities between pairs of sites (i.e., dissimilarities between a focal square and each of all other squares in the study area; Kessler et al., 2009). Thus, instead of comparing each cell only to its neighbors and measuring how different one cell is from the adjacent cells (e.g., Melo et al., 2009), our beta-diversity measure inform about the " rarity " of each focal cell compared to all other sites within the study area. "
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    ABSTRACT: We examined the relationships between different environmental factors and the alpha and betadiversity of terrestrial vertebrates (birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles) in a Mediterranean region at the landscape level. We investigated whether the mechanisms underlying alpha and betadiversity patterns are influenced by energy availability, habitat heterogeneity and temporal variability and if the drivers of the diversity patterns differed between both components of diversity. We defined alpha-diversity as synonym of species richness whereas beta-diversity was measured as distinctiveness. We evaluated a total of 13 different predictors using generalized linear mixed model (GLMM) analysis. Habitat spatial heterogeneity increased alpha-diversity, but contrastingly, it did not significantly affect beta-diversity among sites. Disturbed landscapes may show higher habitat spatial variation and higher alpha-diversity due to the contribution of highly generalist species that are wide-distributed and do not differ in composition (beta-diversity) among different sites within the region. Contrastingly, higher betadiversity levels were negatively related to more stable sites in terms of temporal environmental variation. This negative relationship between environmental stability and beta-diversity levels is explained in terms of species adaptation to the local environmental conditions. Our study highlights the importance of temporal environmental variability in maintaining beta-diversity patterns under highly variable environmental conditions
    Acta Oecologica 07/2015; 68:1-10. DOI:10.1016/j.actao.2015.06.006 · 1.62 Impact Factor
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    • "This is partly explainable by the fact that a-diversity does not take into account information on taxonomic composition, in opposite to bdiversity . It is expected, for instance, that in equally benign and productive environments, b-diversity could change more strongly across a range of environmental conditions than local a-diversity (Kessler et al. 2009). For fish and macroinvertebrates, local a-diversity appeared smaller than expected by chance, indicating that individuals of the same species tended to be locally aggregated. "
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