Aridity and chronic anthropogenic disturbances cause a taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic homogenization of ant communities in a Caatinga dry forest

José Domingos Ribeiro-Neto, Fernanda Maria Pereira Oliveira, Gabriela Burle Arcoverde, Marcelo Tabarelli, Inara Roberta Leal, Xavier Arnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Chronic anthropogenic disturbances (chronic disturbances) and climate change can eliminate sensitive species and support the proliferation of disturbance-adapted ones leading native communities to biotic homogenization. We investigate the individual and interactive effects of increasing chronic disturbances and aridity on the biotic homogenization of ant communities in a Caatinga dry forest in northeast Brazil. Ant communities were recorded across 20 forest stands covering gradients of annual rainfall and chronic disturbances (wood extraction, people pressure, and grazing pressure) intensity. Ant communities were described by adopting taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic attributes. We collected 71 species (24 genera and 7 subfamilies). Aridity-driven reductions in beta diversity were stronger (about 73 %) than chronic disturbance-driven reductions (27 %) for all (but phylogenetic) biodiversity dimensions. Chronic disturbance-driven reduction in beta diversity was more evident via wood extraction than via people and grazing pressure. Intriguing interactive effects of chronic disturbance and aridity were observed for all biodiversity dimensions. Increased chronic disturbances led to slight increases in beta diversity in drier forest stands, probably due to spatial heterogeneity in aridity and chronic disturbance sources distribution. Results suggest that (1) aridity and chronic disturbance represent key drivers of community organization at the landscape scale, (2) chronic disturbance and aridity pose isolated and interactive effects, but aridity plays a major role, and (3) both community-level homogenization or divergence can emerge but in the extreme conditions ant communities converge taxonomically, functionally, and phylogenetically.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110151
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume284
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

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