Abstract: Mountain forest ecosystems in the Andes are threatened by deforestation. Increasing fire frequencies lead to fire-degraded habitats that are often characterized by a persistent fern-dominated vegetation. Little is known about the consequences of these drastic changes in habitat conditions for pollinator communities. In a rapid diversity assessment, we collected individuals of two major groups of insect pollinators (bees and butterflies/moths) with pan traps and compared pollinator diversities in a spatial block design between forest interior, forest edge and adjacent fire-degraded habitats at eight sites in the Bolivian Andes. We found that bee species richness and abundance were significantly higher in fire-degraded habitats than in forest habitats, whereas species richness and abundance of butterflies/moths increased towards the forests interior. Species turnover between forest and fire-degraded habitats was very high for both pollinator groups and was reflected by an increase in the body size of bee species and a decrease in the body size of butterfly/moth species in fire-degraded habitats. We conclude that deforestation by frequent fires has profound impacts on the diversity and composition of pollinator communities. Our tentative findings suggest shifts towards bee-dominated pollinator communities in fire-degraded habitats that may have important feedbacks on the regenerating communities of insect-pollinated plant species.
Keywords: Anthropogenic fires; Apiformes; biodiversity; body size; Bolivian Andes; human disturbance; insect pollinators; Lepidoptera; rain forest; species traits
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Kambach, S.; Guerra, F.; Beck, S.G.; Hensen, I.; Schleuning, M. Human-Induced Disturbance Alters Pollinator Communities in Tropical Mountain Forests. Diversity 2013, 5, 1-14.
Kambach S, Guerra F, Beck SG, Hensen I, Schleuning M. Human-Induced Disturbance Alters Pollinator Communities in Tropical Mountain Forests. Diversity. 2013; 5(1):1-14.
Kambach, Stephan; Guerra, Fernando; Beck, Stephan G.; Hensen, Isabell; Schleuning, Matthias. 2013. "Human-Induced Disturbance Alters Pollinator Communities in Tropical Mountain Forests." Diversity 5, no. 1: 1-14.