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Diversity 2013, 5(1), 1-14; doi:10.3390/d5010001
Article

Human-Induced Disturbance Alters Pollinator Communities in Tropical Mountain Forests

1,* , 2
, 3
, 1
 and 1,4,*
1 Institute of Biology/Geobotany and Botanical Garden, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Am Kirchtor 1, 06108 Halle, Germany 2 Estación Biológica Tunquini, Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Casilla 10077, Correo Central. La Paz, Bolivia 3 Herbario Nacional de Bolivia, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Cota Cota, La Paz 10077, Bolivia 4 Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) and Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
* Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 November 2012 / Revised: 29 November 2012 / Accepted: 14 December 2012 / Published: 27 December 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tropical Forests Ecology and Climate Change)
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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 Anthropogenic fires; Apiformes; biodiversity; body size; Bolivian Andes; human disturbance; insect pollinators; Lepidoptera; rain forest; species traits
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

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.

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