High Species Diversity (high + species_diversity)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Parasite loads are higher in the tropics: temperate to tropical variation in a single host-parasite system

ECOGRAPHY, Issue 4 2008
Daniel J. Salkeld
Parasites are important selective forces upon the evolutionary ecology of their hosts. At least one hypothesis suggests that high species diversity in the tropics is associated with higher parasite abundance in tropical climates. Few studies, however, have directly assessed whether parasite abundance is higher in the tropics. To address this question, it is ideal, although seldom achievable, to compare parasite abundance in a single species that occurs over a geographical area including both temperate and tropical regions. We examined variation in blood parasite abundance in seven populations of a single lizard host species (Eulamprus quoyii) using a transect that spans temperate and tropical climates. Parasite prevalence (proportion of the host population infected) showed no geographical pattern. Interestingly though, parasite load was higher in lizard populations in the tropics, and was related to mean annual temperature, but not to rainfall. We speculate that in this system the relationship between latitude and parasite load is most likely due to variation in host life history over their geographic range. [source]

Temporal and Spatial Distributions of Rotifers in Xiangxi Bay of the Three Gorges Reservoir, China

Shuchan Zhou
Abstract From July 2003 to June 2005, investigations of rotifer temporal and spatial distributions were car-ried out in a bay of the Three Gorges Reservoir, Xiangxi Bay, which is the downstream segment of the Xiangxi River and the nearest bay to the Three Gorges Reservoir dam in Hubei Province, China. Thirteen sampling sites were selected. The results revealed a high species diversity, with 76 species, and 14 dominant species; i.e., Polyarthra vulgaris, Keratella cochlearis, Keratella valga, Synchaeta tremula, Synchaeta stylata, Trichocerca lophoessa, Trichocerca pusilla, Brachionus angularis, Brachionus calyciflorus, Brachionus forficula forficula, Ascomorpha ovalis, Conochilus unicornis, Ploesoma truncatum and Anuraeopsis fissa. After the first year of the reservoir impoundment, the rotifer community was dominated by ten species; one year later it was dominated by eight species. The community in 2003/2004 was dissimilar to that in 2004/2005, which resulted from the succes-sion of the dominant species. The rotifer community exhibited a patchy distribution, with significant heterogeneity observed along the longitudinal axis. All rotifer communities could be divided into three groups, corresponding to the riverine, the transition and the lacustrine zone, respectively. ( 2009 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim) [source]

Influence of land use on plant community composition and diversity in Highland Sourveld grassland in the southern Drakensberg, South Africa

Summary 1Biodiversity conservation of grasslands in the face of transformation and global climate change will depend mainly on rangelands because of insufficient conservation areas in regions suited to agriculture. Transformed vegetation (pastures, crops and plantations) is not expected to conserve much biodiversity. This study examined the impact of land use on the plant diversity and community composition of the southern Drakensberg grasslands in South Africa, which are threatened with complete transformation to pastures, crops and plantations. 2The main land uses in this high rainfall region are: ranching or dairy production under private tenure using indigenous grassland, pastures (Eragrostis curvula, kikuyu and ryegrass) and maize; plantation forestry; communal tenure (maize and rangelands); and conservation. 3Plant diversity and composition were assessed using Whittaker plots. Transformed cover types were depauperate in species and ranged from kikuyu (14 species m,2) and ryegrass (29), to pine plantation (31), E. curvula pasture (31), commercial maize (32) and communal maize (78). With the exception of pine plantations, these communities supported mostly exotic (50 of 70 species) or ruderal indigenous species and made little contribution to plant species conservation. Abandoned communal cropland reverted to an indigenous grassland almost devoid of exotic species within c. 20 years. 4It was predicted that frequently cultivated sites (maize and ryegrass) would support less diversity than long-lived pastures (kikuyu and E. curvula). This was contradicted by the relatively high species diversity of communal maize fields, which was attributed to a lack of herbicides, and the depauperate communities of kikuyu and of E. curvula pasture, which were attributed, respectively, to a dense growth form and a severe mowing regime. 5Pine plantations harboured fourfold more indigenous species per plot (27) than other transformed types. Species were mostly shade-tolerant grassland relics that had persisted for 12 years since planting, and some forest colonizers. Indigenous species were unlikely to be maintained because of aggressive invasion by the exotic Rubus cuneifolius and severe disturbance associated with tree harvest and replanting. 6The richness of indigenous grasslands was expected to differ in response to grazing pressure but they differed only in composition. Grasslands were dominated by grasses, despite the richness of herbaceous species. The dominance of Themeda triandra was reduced under livestock grazing in favour of more grazing-tolerant species. Exotic species were inconspicuous except for the dicotyledon Richardia brasiliensis, a subdominant under communal grazing. 7Southern Drakensberg grasslands are probably now stocked with livestock six- to 35-fold higher than during pre-settlement times. A grassland protected for c. 50 years supported twofold greater richness (101 species plot,1) than grazed grasslands, suggesting that a 150-year history of increased mammalian grazing had already reduced plant diversity. 8Synthesis and applications. Land acquisition is costly, thus conservation of plant diversity in the southern Drakensberg requires a policy that inhibits transformation of rangelands. This can be achieved by enhancing their economic viability without changing the vegetation composition. Their inherent value must be recognized, such as for water production. The viability of commercial ranches can be improved by increasing their size. Conservation efforts need to be focused on plant taxa that only occur on unprotected rangelands. [source]

Older species: a rejuvenation on coral reefs?

John C. Briggs
Abstract Aim To discuss the theory that the present high species diversity and apomorphic character of the coral reef ecosystem is because of the historic accumulation of basal species from marginal habitats. Location The Indo-West Pacific Ocean. Methods The examination of biogeographical patterns from the standpoint of paleontology, phylogeny, genetics, and empirical data. Results Fossil patterns from several clades indicate a gradient of increasing average generic age that extends outward from the high diversity reefs. Successful species that give rise to new species, genera, and families apparently originate from high diversity locations. The tropics have been a major source of evolutionary novelty, not simply a refuge that has accumulated diversity. Many plesiomorphic clades, that once dominated the shallow tropics, are now limited to the deep sea and other safe places. Recent research on several tropical fish families indicates that more apomorphic species inhabit the high diversity reefs. Genetic studies suggest that a decrease in genetic variation extends from the diversity centre toward the outer reaches of the Indo-West Pacific. Empirical data show that it is extremely difficult for species from low diversity areas to invade places of higher diversity. Main conclusions There is no convincing evidence to indicate that basal species from marginal habitats have been able to accumulate on the coral reefs. Once such species have been displaced from a high diversity environment, there is apparently no return. The evolutionary innovations that contribute to the origination of new phyletic lines take place under conditions of high diversity and maximum competition. [source]

Huge populations and old species of Costa Rican and Panamanian dirt frogs inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequences

A. J. Crawford
Abstract Molecular genetic data were used to investigate population sizes and ages of Eleutherodactylus (Anura: Leptodactylidae), a species-rich group of small leaf-litter frogs endemic to Central America. Population genetic structure and divergence was investigated for four closely related species surveyed across nine localities in Costa Rica and Panama. DNA sequence data were collected from a mitochondrial gene (ND2) and a nuclear gene (c- myc). Phylogenetic analyses yielded concordant results between loci, with reciprocal monophyly of mitochondrial DNA haplotypes for all species and of c- myc haplotypes for three of the four species. Estimates of genetic differentiation among populations (FST) based upon mitochondrial data were always higher than nuclear-based FST estimates, even after correcting for the expected fourfold lower effective population size (Ne) of the mitochondrial genome. Comparing within-population variation and the relative mutation rates of the two genes revealed that the Ne of the mitochondrial genome was 15-fold lower than the estimate of the nuclear genome based on c- myc. Nuclear FST estimates were , 0 for the most proximal pairs of populations, but ranged from 0.5 to 1.0 for all other pairs, even within the same nominal species. The nuclear locus yielded estimates of Ne within localities on the order of 105. This value is two to three orders of magnitude larger than any previous Ne estimate from frogs, but is nonetheless consistent with published demographic data. Applying a molecular clock model suggested that morphologically indistinguishable populations within one species may be 107 years old. These results demonstrate that even a geologically young and dynamic region of the tropics can support very old lineages that harbour great levels of genetic diversity within populations. The association of high nucleotide diversity within populations, large divergence between populations, and high species diversity is also discussed in light of neutral community models. [source]

Spatial distributions of multiple plant species affect herbivore foraging selectivity

OIKOS, Issue 2 2010
Ling Wang
Spatial distribution of food resources is an important factor determining herbivore foraging. Previous studies have demonstrated that clumped distribution of preferred species increases its consumption by herbivores in single- or two-species systems. However, the potential impact of distribution pattern of less preferred species on foraging was ignored. In natural grasslands with high species diversity and complexity, the spatial distribution of preferred species impacts on herbivore foraging may be strongly correlated with the distribution of less preferred species. Our aims were to determine the effect of distribution of both preferred and other plant species on herbivore foraging under conditions close to a native, multi-species foraging environment, and conceptualize the relationships between spatial distribution of food resources and herbivore consumption. We hypothesized that random distribution of non-preferred species reduces herbivore consumption of preferred species because the dispersion of less preferred species likely disturbs herbivore foraging. We conducted an experiment using three species with five combinations of clumped and random distribution patterns. Three species Lathyrus quinquenervius, Phragmites australis and Leymus chinensis, were of high, intermediate and low preferences by sheep, respectively. Results showed that distribution of low preferred species, but not that of high preferred one, affected the consumption of preferred species. Sheep obtained higher consumption of high preferred species when low preferred species followed a clumped distribution than a random distribution. Distance between aggregations of high and low preferred species did not affect sheep foraging. It was concluded that the effects of spatial distribution of preferred species on its consumption are dependent on herbivore foraging strategy, and sheep can consume more preferred species when there is a consistent spatial pattern between preferred species and the entire food resource, and that the random dispersion of low preferred species in grassland may reduce herbivore consumption of high preferred species, thus minimizing selective grazing. [source]

Disturbance and reef topography maintain high local diversity in Ecklonia radiata kelp forests

OIKOS, Issue 10 2007
Benjamin D. Toohey
Disturbance of competitive-dominant plant and algae canopies often lead to increased diversity of the assemblage. Kelp forests, particularly those of temperate Western Australia, are habitats with high alpha diversity. This study investigated the roles of broad-scale canopy loss and local scale reef topography on structuring the kelp-dominated macroalgal forests in Western Australia. Eighteen 314,m2 circular areas were cleared of their Ecklonia radiata canopy and eighteen controls were established across three locations. The patterns of macroalgal recolonisation in replicate clearances were observed over a 34,month period. Macroalgal species richness initially increased after canopy removal with a turf of filamentous and foliose macroalgae dominating cleared areas for up to seven months. A dense Sargassum canopy dominated cleared areas from 11 to 22,months. By 34,months, partial recovery of the kelp canopy into cleared areas had occurred. Some cleared areas did not follow this trajectory but remained dominated by turfing, foliose and filamentous algae. As kelp canopies developed, the initial high species diversity declined but still remained elevated relative to undisturbed controls, even after 34 months. More complex reef topography was associated with greater variability in the algal assemblage between replicate quadrats suggesting colonising algae had a greater choice of microhabitats available to them on topographically complex reefs. Shading by canopies of either Sargassum spp. and E. radiata are proposed to highly influence the abundance of algae through competitive exclusion that is relaxed by disturbance of the canopy. Disturbance of the canopy in E. radiata kelp forests created a mosaic of different patch types (turf, Sargassum -dominated, kelp-dominated). These patch types were both transient and stable over the 34 months of this study, and are a potential contemporary process that maintains high species diversity in temperate kelp-dominated reefs. [source]


Abstract:, The long-term diversification of life probably cannot be modelled as a simple equilibrial process: the time scales are too long, the potential for exploring new ecospace is too large and it is unlikely that ecological controls can act at global scales. The sum of many clade expansions and reductions, each of which happens according to its own dynamic, probably approximates more a damped exponential curve when translated into a global-scale species diversification curve. Unfortunately, it is not possible to plot such a meaningful global-scale species diversification curve through time, but curves at higher taxonomic levels have been produced. These curves are subject to the vagaries of the fossil record, but it is unlikely that the sources of error entirely overwhelm the biological signal. Clades radiate when the external and internal conditions are right: a new territory or ecospace becomes available, and the lineage has acquired a number of characters that open up a new diet or mode of life. Modern high levels of diversity in certain speciose clades may depend on such ancient opportunities taken. Dramatic climatic changes through the Quaternary must have driven extinctions and originations, but many species responded simply by moving to more favourable locations. Ecological communities appear to be no more than merely chance associations of species, but there may be real interactions among species. Ironically, high species diversity may lead to more speciation, not, as had been assumed, less: more species create more opportunities and selective pressures for other species to respond to, rather than capping diversity at a fixed equilibrium level. Studies from the scale of modern ecosystems to global long-term patterns in the fossil record support a model for the exponential diversification of life, and one explanation for a pattern of exponential diversification is that as diversity increases, new forms become ever more refinements of existing forms. In a sense the world becomes increasingly divided into finer niche space. Organisms have a propensity to speciate freely, species richness within ecosystems appears to generate opportunities for more speciation, clades show all kinds of patterns from sluggish speciation rates and constant diversity through time to apparently explosive speciation, and there is no evidence that rapidly speciating clades have reached a limit, nor that they are driving other clades to extinction. A corollary of this view is that current biodiversity must be higher than it has ever been. Limits to infinite growth are clearly local, regional, and global turnover and extinction events, when climate change and physical catastrophes knock out species and whole clades, and push the rising exponential curve down a notch or two. [source]