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  • Ant Functional Diversity in Temperate Zone Forests: A Comparison with Neotropical Ants
  • Del Toro, Israel
  • Ellison, Aaron
  • Silva, Rogerio
  • 2017
  • Predicted impacts of climatic change on ant functional diversity and distributions in eastern North American forests Aims--Climatic change is expected to rearrange species assemblages and ultimately affect organism-mediated ecosystem processes. We focus on identifying patterns and relationships between common ant species (representing 99% of total ant records) richness and functional diversity; modelling how these patterns may change at local and regional scales in future climatic conditions; and interpreting how these changes might influence ant-mediated ecosystem processes. Location--Forested ecosystems of eastern North America. Methods--We used a previously published dataset to evaluate functional diversity at 67 sites in the eastern U.S. and quantified 14 taxonomic, morphometric and natural history traits for 70 common ant species in the region. We used functional diversity metrics, functional groups and species distribution modelling methods to address our aims. We used stacked species distribution models and stacked functional group models to predict species assemblages and functional richness at the 67 sites and at a regional scale for current and future climatic conditions. Results--Species richness and functional diversity are positively correlated throughout the region. Under future climate scenarios, species richness and functional group richness were predicted to decrease in southern ecoregions and increase in northern ecoregions. This may be due to increased thermal stress for species in the southern extent of their ranges and increased habitat suitability in the northern ecoregions. Decomposers, arthropod community regulators and seed dispersers are forecast to be the most threatened ant functional groups. Main Conclusions--Climate change will likely lead to major changes in ant species richness and functional group richness in the forests of the north-eastern United States, and this may substantially alter ant-mediated ecosystem processes and services. Morphological structure of ant assemblages in tropical and temperate forests Morphological variation in co-occurring species often is used to infer species assembly rules and other processes structuring ecological assemblages. We compared the morphological structure of ant assemblages in two biogeographic regions along two extensive latitudinal gradients to examine common patterns and unique characteristics of trait distribution. We sampled ant assemblages along extensive latitudinal gradients in Tropical Atlantic Forest in eastern Brazil and temperate forests in the eastern United States. We quantified 14 morphological traits related to the ecology and life history of each of 599 ant species and defined the morphological space occupied by different ant assemblages. Null models were used to test whether tropical and temperate ant assemblages differed from random expectation in morphological structure. Correlations between traits and climate were used to infer associations between habitat characteristics and morphological space occupied by ant assemblages. Tropical ant assemblages had higher morphological diversity and variation in the space of occupied morphospace, whereas temperate assemblages had higher variance in size. Although tropical ant assemblages had smaller morphological distances among species, species packing (i.e., mean nearest-neighbor distance) did not differ between regions. Null model analysis revealed scant evidence of habitat filtering or niche differentiation within assemblages. Different traits had different means, variances, skewness, and kurtosis values along each environmental gradient. Mean trait values within assemblages were associated mainly with region and correlated with temperature but trait variances had more complex responses to climate, including interactions between temperature and precipitation in the models. The higher functional diversity in tropical ant assemblages occurs by expansion of the morphospace rather than through an increase in species packing. Different traits vary independently along environmental gradients. Analysis of individual traits together with categorization of the moments of trait distributions (statistical central tendencies) provide new directions for quantifying morphological diversity in ant assemblages.
  • N: 46.9648      S: 37.1649      E: -67.482      W: -80.3025
  • This dataset is released to the public under Creative Commons license CC BY (Attribution). Please keep the designated contact person informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation or collaboration with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset must include proper acknowledgement.
  • doi:10.6073/pasta/1b0176aab866362b5be65657310d27f9

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