Guild Structure (guild + structure)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Factors influencing duiker dung decay in north-east Gabon: are dung beetles hiding duikers?

Nathalie Van Vliet
Abstract We analysed seasonality of dung decay time and the influence of rainfall, leaf fall, beetle attack and moisture on dung decay. Our study was carried out at the Ipassa Reserve, north-east Gabon. We compared the seasonality of dung decay with the seasonality of dung beetle abundance and guild structure. Dung beetle activity was the main factor influencing dung decay in our study site. Decay time was the highest during the main dry season (3.4 days) and the lowest during the short rainy season (0.7 days). Dung decay time was closely related to dung beetle abundance, especially to the abundance of nocturnal beetles. We discuss the implications of such results for duiker survey methods based on dung pellet counts in areas where decay time is extremely short or unknown. Résumé Nous avons analysé le caractère saisonnier de la durée de décomposition des crottes et l'influence des chutes de pluie, des chutes de feuilles, des attaques de coléoptères et de l'humidité sur la décomposition des crottes. Notre étude s'est déroulée dans la Réserve d'Ipassa, au nord-est du Gabon. Nous avons comparé le caractère saisonnier de la décomposition des crottes avec celui de l'abondance des coléoptères et la structure des guildes. L'activité des bousiers était le principal facteur influençant la décomposition des crottes sur notre site d'étude. La durée de la décomposition était plus longue pendant la grande saison sèche (3,4 jours) et plus courte pendant la petite saison des pluies (0,7 jour). La durée de la décomposition était étroitement liée à l'abondance des bousiers, spécialement celle des coléoptères nocturnes. Nous discutons les implications de ces résultats pour les méthodes de recensement des céphalophes qui se basent sur le comptage des crottes, dans des régions où le temps de décomposition est extrêmement court, ou inconnu. [source]

Energy density patterns of nectar resources permit coexistence within a guild of Neotropical flower-visiting bats

Marco Tschapka
Abstract Neotropical rainforests support guilds of nectar feeding bats (Phyllostomidae: Glossophaginae) with up to six coexisting species. To analyse guild structure and mechanisms of coexistence in a Costa Rican tropical lowland rainforest, the resource use and morphology of bats were compared to the energetic characteristics of preferred nectar resources and their spatio-temporal distribution. The relative abundance of nectar-feeding bats was determined from mistnet captures over 26 months. Food items were identified by analysis of pollen loads and faecal samples. Phenology, flower density and nectar sugar content of resource plants permitted quantitative estimations of resource availability expressed as energy density (kJ ha,1 day,1) throughout the annual cycle. Four glossophagine bat species co-occurred at La Selva: two permanent residents (Glossophaga commissarisi, Hylonycteris underwoodi) and two seasonal species (Lichonycteris obscura, Lonchophylla robusta) that were found in small numbers during a period of high nectar availability. The two resident species differed in their abundance and in their temporal feeding strategies. After the main flowering peak, the common G. commissarisi shifted to a more frugivorous diet, while the rarer H. underwoodi fed on the few remaining bat-flowers. Resource plant species differed in their energy density by up to two orders of magnitude. Hylonycteris underwoodi visited more often plant species with a low energy yield than G. commissarisi. Because of its smaller body size and a wing morphology that promotes fast flight, H. underwoodi appears to be better adapted to low and scattered nectar resource levels. The two seasonal species differed greatly in body mass, which suggests different strategies for high-quality resource tracking. Large body mass in Lonchophylla robusta provides an energy buffer that permits daily commuting flights between a permanent roost and profitable foraging areas, while the small Lichonycteris obscura seems to track resources nomadically. It is proposed that energy density may be a major niche dimension that restricts access of species to certain habitats and that may profoundly influence the structure of nectar-feeding bat guilds. [source]

Above and below ground impacts of terrestrial mammals and birds in a tropical forest

OIKOS, Issue 4 2008
Amy E. Dunham
Understanding the impact of losing trophic diversity has global significance for managing ecosystems as well as important theoretical implications for community and ecosystem ecology. In several tropical forest ecosystems, habitat fragmentation has resulted in declines and local extinctions of mammalian and avian terrestrial insectivores. To assess the ability of a tropical rainforest community in Ivory Coast to resist perturbation from such loss of trophic diversity, I traced feedbacks in above and below ground communities and measured changes in nutrient levels and herbivory rates in response to an experimental exclosure of avian and mammalian terrestrial insectivores. I present evidence that loss of this functional group may result in increased tree seedling herbivory and altered nutrient regimes through changes in the abundance and guild structure of invertebrates. Exclusion of top predators of the forest floor resulted in increased seedling herbivory rates and macro-invertebrate (>5 mm) densities with strongest effects on herbivorous taxa, spiders and earthworms. Densities of microbivores including Collembola, Acarina and Sciaridae showed the opposite trend as did levels of inorganic phosphorus in the soil. Results were evaluated using path analysis which supported the presence of a top down trophic cascade in the detrital web which ultimately affected turnover of phosphorus, a limiting nutrient in tropical soils. Results illustrate the potential importance of vertebrate predators in both above and belowground food webs despite the biotic diversity and structural heterogeneity of the rainforest floor. [source]

Generalist predators in organically and conventionally managed grass-clover fields: implications for conservation biological control

K Birkhofer
Abstract Organically managed agroecosystems rely in part on biological control to prevent pest outbreaks. Generalist predators (Araneae, Carabidae and Staphylinidae) are a major component of the natural enemy community in agroecosystems. We assessed the seasonal dynamics of major generalist predator groups in conventionally and organically managed grass,clover fields that primarily differed by fertilisation strategy. We further established an experiment, manipulating the abundant wolf spider genus Pardosa, to identify the importance of these predators for herbivore suppression in the same system and growth period. Organic management significantly enhanced ground-active spider numbers early and late in the growing season, with potentially positive effects of plant cover and non-pest decomposer prey. However, enhancing spider numbers in the field experiment did not improve biological control in organically managed grass,clover fields. Similar to the survey results, reduced densities of Pardosa had no short-term effect on any prey taxa; however, spider guild structure changed in response to Pardosa manipulation. In the presence of fewer Pardosa, other ground-running spiders were more abundant; therefore, their impact on herbivore numbers may have been elevated, possibly cancelling increases in herbivore numbers because of reduced predation by Pardosa. Our results indicate positive effects of organic farming on spider activity density; however, our survey data and the predator manipulation experiment failed to find evidence that ground-running spiders reduced herbivore numbers. We therefore suggest that a positive impact of organic fertilisers on wolf spiders in grass,clover agroecosystems may not necessarily improve biological control when compared with conventional farming. [source]

Depth distribution and composition of seed-banks in alien-invaded and uninvaded fynbos vegetation

Patricia M. Holmes
Abstract South African fynbos vegetation is threatened on a large scale by invasive woody plants. A major task facing nature conservation managers is to restore invaded areas. The aim of this study was to determine the restoration potential of fynbos following dense invasion by the Australian tree Acacia saligna. The impacts of dense invasion on seed-bank composition and depth distribution were investigated to determine which fynbos guilds and species have the most persistent seed-banks. Soil samples were excavated at three different depths for invaded and uninvaded vegetation at two sand plain and mountain fynbos sites. Seed-banks were determined using the seedling emergence approach. Invasion caused a significant reduction in seed-bank density and richness at all sites. There was a significant, but smaller, reduction in seed-bank density and richness with soil depth at three sites. Seed-bank composition and guild structure changed following invasion. Low persistence of long-lived obligate seeders in sand plain fynbos seed-banks indicates that this vegetation type will be difficult to restore from the seed-bank alone following alien clearance. The dominance of short-lived species, especially graminoids, forbs and ephemeral geophytes, suggests that regenerating vegetation will develop into a herbland rather than a shrubland. It is recommended that seed collecting and sowing form part of the restoration plan for densely invaded sand plain sites. As seed density remained higher towards the soil surface following invasion, there is no general advantage in applying a mechanical soil disturbance treatment. However, if the shallow soil seed-bank becomes depleted, for example following a hot fire through dense alien slash, a soil disturbance treatment should be given to exhume the deeper viable seed-bank and promote recruitment. [source]

Fig-eating by vertebrate frugivores: a global review

ABSTRACT The consumption of figs (the fruit of Ficus spp.; Moraceae) by vertebrates is reviewed using data from the literature, unpublished accounts and new field data from Borneo and Hong Kong. Records of frugivory from over 75 countries are presented for 260 Ficus species (approximately 30% of described species). Explanations are presented for geographical and taxonomic gaps in the otherwise extensive literature. In addition to a small number of reptiles and fishes, 1274 bird and mammal species in 523 genera and 92 families are known to eat figs. In terms of the number of species and genera of fig-eaters and the number of fig species eaten we identify the avian families interacting most with Ficus to be Columbidae, Psittacidae, Pycnonotidae, Bucerotidae, Sturnidae and Lybiidae. Among mammals, the major fig-eating families are Pteropodidae, Cercopithecidae, Sciuridae, Phyllostomidae and Cebidae. We assess the role these and other frugivores play in Ficus seed dispersal and identify fig-specialists. In most, but not all, cases fig specialists provide effective seed dispersal services to the Ficus species on which they feed. The diversity of fig-eaters is explained with respect to fig design and nutrient content, phenology of fig ripening and the diversity of fig presentation. Whilst at a gross level there exists considerable overlap between birds, arboreal mammals and fruit bats with regard to the fig species they consume, closer analysis, based on evidence from across the tropics, suggests that discrete guilds of Ficus species differentially attract subsets of sympatric frugivore communities. This dispersal guild structure is determined by interspecific differences in fig design and presentation. Throughout our examination of the fig-frugivore interaction we consider phylogenetic factors and make comparisons between large-scale biogeographical regions. Our dataset supports previous claims that Ficus is the most important plant genus for tropical frugivores. We explore the concept of figs as keystone resources and suggest criteria for future investigations of their dietary importance. Finally, fully referenced lists of frugivores recorded at each Ficus species and of Ficus species in the diet of each frugivore are presented as online appendices. In situations where ecological information is incomplete or its retrieval is impractical, this valuable resource will assist conservationists in evaluating the role of figs or their frugivores in tropical forest sites. [source]

Bird Community Composition in a Shaded Coffee Agro-ecological Matrix in Puebla, Mexico: The Effects of Landscape Heterogeneity at Multiple Spatial Scales

BIOTROPICA, Issue 2 2010
Eurídice Leyequién
ABSTRACT This study examined the importance of habitat heterogeneity on the avian community composition, and investigated the scale at which species abundances respond to habitat variables. The study was conducted within a diverse landscape matrix of a shaded coffee region in Mexico. To detect at which characteristic spatial scale different species and foraging guilds respond most strongly we analyzed the effect of plot-, patch- and landscape-level variables at different spatial extent (i.e., different kilometer radii) on species composition and foraging guilds. We used redundancy analysis to identify species,environment correlations, and to identify predictor variables that best explained the bird community structure, quantified the influence of plot-, patch- and landscape-level variables on the bird community composition. In addition, we used the 4th-corner method to detect significant relationships between the dietary guilds and plot-, patch- and landscape-level variables. We recorded 12,335 individuals of 181 bird species; 105 bird species were recorded foraging within the shaded coffee plantations. We found that plot- and landscape-level variables significantly explained the bird community composition best across all scales, and were significantly correlated with the abundance of the dietary guilds. In contrast, patch-level variables were less important. Habitat composition variables (i.e., coffee, forest and agricultural area) were among the most important predictors. Canopy structure was more important than other vegetation structure variables in explaining dietary guild structure. Hence, the maintenance of a heterogeneous landscape with a high-quality matrix within an agro-ecological region enhances bird conservation. Abstract in Spanish is available at [source]