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Volume 12, November

Diversity, Volume 12, Issue 12 (December 2020) – 47 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Phylogeographic patterns for marine species in the Indian Ocean are poorly understood, and globally, there remains a paucity of studies focusing on marine sponges. The sponge Leucetta chagosensis has a wide distribution throughout the Indo-Pacific region. To increase our knowledge of its spatial variation of genetic diversity, we included samples from the understudied Indian Ocean and constructed phylogenies and haplotype networks using two different markers. We observed five cryptic lineages and found that the Indian Ocean specimens differ significantly from the rest of the Indo-Pacific, highlighting the need for more genetic studies of marine invertebrates in the Indian Ocean. View this paper
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Open AccessArticle
Landscape Transformation Influences Responses of Terrestrial Small Mammals to Land Use Intensity in North-Central Namibia
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 488; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120488 - 21 Dec 2020
Viewed by 302
Abstract
In this study, we investigate and compare the response patterns of small mammal communities to increasing land use intensity in two study areas: private farmland at the southern boundary of Etosha National Park and smallholder farmland in Tsumeb agricultural area. Species richness, community [...] Read more.
In this study, we investigate and compare the response patterns of small mammal communities to increasing land use intensity in two study areas: private farmland at the southern boundary of Etosha National Park and smallholder farmland in Tsumeb agricultural area. Species richness, community composition and a standardized capture index (RCI) are compared between sites of (a) increasing grazing pressure of ungulates (Etosha) and (b) increasing conversion of bushland to arable land (Tsumeb). Within each study area, we found clear response patterns towards increasing land use intensity. However, patterns differ significantly between the two areas. Within the less-transformed area (Etosha), high land use intensity results in a decrease in the RCI but not species richness. Small mammal communities remain relatively stable, but ecosystem functions (e.g., bioturbation, seed dispersal) are weakened. Within the more-transformed area (Tsumeb), high land use intensity leads to a decrease in species richness and increasing RCIs of two common pest species. The disappearance of a balanced community and the dramatic increase in a few pest species has the potential to threaten human livelihoods (e.g., crop damage, disease vectors). Our comparative approach clearly indicates that Gerbilliscus leucogaster is a possible candidate for an ecological indicator of ecosystem integrity. Mastomys natalensis has the potential to become an important pest species when bushland is transformed into irrigated arable land. Our results support the importance of area-specific conservation and management measures in savanna ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Human Disturbance on Ecological Communities)
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Open AccessArticle
Management Effectiveness Assessment for Ecuador’s National Parks
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 487; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120487 - 18 Dec 2020
Viewed by 495
Abstract
Ecuador belongs to the group of 17 megadiverse countries on the planet, and the Ecuadorian national system of protected areas covers around 20% of the country’s territory. Despite some initiatives for protected areas management effectiveness evaluation, the information on this matter is scarce [...] Read more.
Ecuador belongs to the group of 17 megadiverse countries on the planet, and the Ecuadorian national system of protected areas covers around 20% of the country’s territory. Despite some initiatives for protected areas management effectiveness evaluation, the information on this matter is scarce and a general overview is missing. In this context, this study aims at investigating problems faced by National Parks in Ecuador and developing a base level management effectiveness evaluation for possible comparative assessments in the future. Focusing on all 12 legally established National Parks, this study used the Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT), an internationally consecrated methodology based on a scorecard questionnaire that includes six elements of management cycle: context, planning, inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes. The questionnaire was applied to Ecuadorian National Parks management teams through face-to-face interviews. The resulted overall management effectiveness indices are between 40.6% and 99.0%. The general condition of biodiversity value was considered as good in line with the legal status and National Parks design but topics related to budget allocation, tourism arrangements, communities and indigenous people received lower scores. The low enforcement emphasis is not necessarily the best way to improve management effectiveness; the identified issues should be addressed by including communities and indigenous people in the decision making and benefits sharing as well as strategic allocation of budgetary resources, with proper adaptation to Natural Parks’ specific conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Biodiversity Conservation)
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Open AccessArticle
Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of the Spring Orchid Cymbidium goeringii in Korean Distant Islands
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 486; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120486 - 18 Dec 2020
Viewed by 358
Abstract
The spring orchid (Cymbidium goeringii), found in northeast Asia, is one of the most popular and horticulturally important species of the orchid family. This study analyzed the genetic diversity and population structure of the spring orchid populations in the small islands [...] Read more.
The spring orchid (Cymbidium goeringii), found in northeast Asia, is one of the most popular and horticulturally important species of the orchid family. This study analyzed the genetic diversity and population structure of the spring orchid populations in the small islands and mainland South Korea using 11 microsatellite markers. The genetic diversities of spring orchid populations in the distant islands (Heuksan Island and Ulleung Island) were slightly lower than that of the mainland population (Yeonggwang-gun). The population structure in the mainland was genetically separated from the populations in the islands. The population of Ulleung Island, located in the eastern part of the Korean peninsula, was genetically closer to the populations from China and Japan than to the populations from Yeonggwang-gun and Heuksan Island, which are geographically close to China. These results imply that the populations of spring orchids distributed in Yeonggwang-gun and Heuksan Island appear not to be influenced by the yellow dust winds. As the first population genetic study of spring orchids distributed in small distant islands, our study will be useful for understanding the genetic diversity and population structure of isolated C. goeringii populations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Testing Bathymetric and Regional Patterns in the Southwest Atlantic Deep Sea Using Infaunal Diversity, Structure, and Function
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 485; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120485 - 18 Dec 2020
Viewed by 480
Abstract
A better understanding of deep-sea biology requires knowledge of the structure and function of their communities, the spatial, temporal, and environmental patterns, and the changes and dynamics that govern them. Some of the most studied patterns in deep-sea biology are those related to [...] Read more.
A better understanding of deep-sea biology requires knowledge of the structure and function of their communities, the spatial, temporal, and environmental patterns, and the changes and dynamics that govern them. Some of the most studied patterns in deep-sea biology are those related to bathymetrical gradients. For meiofauna and nematodes, such studies have highlighted the importance of recognizing regional differences in using ecological mechanisms to explain those patterns. Despite holding significant fisheries and oil and gas resources, the eastern Brazilian Continental Margin is poorly understood with respect to its seafloor biology and ecology. To answer ecological questions of deep-sea infaunal structural and functional diversity in relation to bathymetrical patterns, we used nematode data from five bathymetric transects (400, 1000, 1900, 2500, and 3000 m water depth) sampled in 2011 and 2013 on the Espírito Santo slope off the coast of southeast (SE) Brazil. Deep nematode community analysis based on 6763 nematode identifications showed very high levels of diversity (201 genera; 43 families) compared to other ocean basins and deep-sea regions. Our analyses showed that there is a distinct bathymetric break in standing stocks and community structure between 1000 and 1900 m. Nematode standing stocks were much higher at 400 and 1000 m compared to those for similar depths worldwide, likely linked to the intense and frequent upwelling and specific hydrographic and topographic identity of the region. The bathymetric break was not present for structural and functional nematode diversity. Instead, bathymetric regressions showed that they increased gradually toward 3000 m water depth. The deep Espírito Santo basin is characterized by rich and equitable nematode communities that are both mature and trophically diverse. General deep-sea ecological theories apply to our findings, but there are also substantial regional effects related to the local margin topography, upwelling, and oceanographic and hydrodynamic processes that make the Espírito Santo Basin a unique and diverse deep-sea ecosystem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Environmental Change on Meiofauna)
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Open AccessArticle
Cheilospirura hamulosa in the Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca saxatilis): Epidemiological Patterns and Prediction of Parasite Distribution in France
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 484; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120484 - 18 Dec 2020
Viewed by 288
Abstract
The rock partridge (Alectoris graeca saxatilis) is an alpine Galliform with high conservation value. Several factors, including parasitic helminths, play a role in population dynamics, and consequently in the conservation management of wild Galliformes. The aim of this study was to [...] Read more.
The rock partridge (Alectoris graeca saxatilis) is an alpine Galliform with high conservation value. Several factors, including parasitic helminths, play a role in population dynamics, and consequently in the conservation management of wild Galliformes. The aim of this study was to assess the epidemiological characteristics of Cheilospirura hamulosa (Nematoda, Acuarioidea) in the Rock partridge population in France. Machine learning modeling algorithms were applied to identify the environmental variables influencing parasite occurrence, and to map parasite presence probability. The present work is based on a long-term sampling (1987–2019) conducted in the French Alps. C. hamulosa was found with a prevalence (P) of 39% (Confidence Interval—CI 95%: 34–43), and mean intensity of 7.7 (7.8 sd). The highest prevalence (P: 67%, CI 95%: 54–80) was detected in the period 2005–2009. Latitude was the most important variable shaping the parasite distribution, followed by altitude, annual mean temperature, temperature seasonality, and the amount of precipitation of the coldest quarter. The area suitable for parasite presence included 73% of the French Alps. This work represents the first epidemiological surveillance on C. hamulosa infection in the rock partridge. It provides evidence of a high level of infection and identifies priority areas at higher infection risk, where a close monitoring of the rock partridge populations should be carried out. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bird Parasites)
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Open AccessArticle
Development of Novel SNP Assays for Genetic Analysis of Rare Minnow (Gobiocypris rarus) in a Successive Generation Closed Colony
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 483; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120483 - 18 Dec 2020
Viewed by 242
Abstract
The complex genetic architecture of closed colonies during successive passages poses a significant challenge in the understanding of the genetic background. Research on the dynamic changes in genetic structure for the establishment of a new closed colony is limited. In this study, we [...] Read more.
The complex genetic architecture of closed colonies during successive passages poses a significant challenge in the understanding of the genetic background. Research on the dynamic changes in genetic structure for the establishment of a new closed colony is limited. In this study, we developed 51 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers for the rare minnow (Gobiocypris rarus) and conducted genetic diversity and structure analyses in five successive generations of a closed colony using 20 SNPs. The range of mean Ho and He in five generations was 0.4547–0.4983 and 0.4445–0.4644, respectively. No significant differences were observed in the Ne, Ho, and He (p > 0.05) between the five closed colony generations, indicating well-maintained heterozygosity. The F-statistics analysis revealed a relatively stable genetic structure of the closed colony. Furthermore, the genetic distance between the newer and older generations increased with the breeding generations in closed colonies. Our results confirmed previous findings in the same samples using microsatellite markers. The results will be beneficial for establishing genetic variability monitoring criteria and restoration of the wild population of the rare minnow and other laboratory fish. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Diversity)
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Open AccessArticle
Local and Landscape Compositions Influence Stingless Bee Communities and Pollination Networks in Tropical Mixed Fruit Orchards, Thailand
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 482; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120482 - 17 Dec 2020
Viewed by 459
Abstract
Stingless bees are vital pollinators for both wild and crop plants, yet their communities have been affected and altered by anthropogenic land-use change. Additionally, few studies have directly addressed the consequences of land-use change for meliponines, and knowledge on how their communities change [...] Read more.
Stingless bees are vital pollinators for both wild and crop plants, yet their communities have been affected and altered by anthropogenic land-use change. Additionally, few studies have directly addressed the consequences of land-use change for meliponines, and knowledge on how their communities change across gradients in surrounding landscape cover remains scarce. Here, we examine both how local and landscape-level compositions as well as forest proximity affect both meliponine species richness and abundance together with pollination networks across 30 mixed fruit orchards in Southern Thailand. The results reveal that most landscape-level factors significantly influenced both stingless bee richness and abundance. Surrounding forest cover has a strong positive direct effect on both factors, while agricultural and urbanized cover generally reduced both bee abundance and diversity. In the local habitat, there is a significant interaction between orchard size and floral richness with stingless bee richness. We also found that pollinator specialization in pollination networks decreased when the distance to the forest patch increased. Both local and landscape factors thus influenced meliponine assemblages, particularly the forest patches surrounding an orchard, which potentially act as a key reservoir for stingless bees and other pollinator taxa. Preservation of forest patches can protect the permanent nesting and foraging habitat of various pollinator taxa, resulting in high visitation for crop and wild plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land-Use and Climate Impacts on Plant-Pollinator Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle
Phylogenetic Assessment of Freshwater Mussels Castalia ambigua and C. inflata at an Ecotone in the Paraguay River Basin, Brazil Shows That Inflated and Compressed Shell Morphotypes Are the Same Species
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 481; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120481 - 16 Dec 2020
Viewed by 328
Abstract
The phylogeny and taxonomy of freshwater mussels of the genus Castalia in South America is complicated by issues of morphological plasticity and limited molecular genetic data. We present field data on the distributions of the nominal Castalia ambigua and C. inflata in the [...] Read more.
The phylogeny and taxonomy of freshwater mussels of the genus Castalia in South America is complicated by issues of morphological plasticity and limited molecular genetic data. We present field data on the distributions of the nominal Castalia ambigua and C. inflata in the upper Paraguay River basin in Brazil based on original occurrence data at 23 sample sites and on historical records. The upper basin has distinct highland and lowland regions, the latter including the Pantanal wetland, where “C. ambigua” occurs in the highlands and “C. inflata” occurs in both regions. At Baixo Stream in the highlands, we observed individuals with shell morphologies of either C. ambigua or C. inflata, and also individuals with intermediate shell morphology. DNA sequence variation in the upland Baixo Stream and two representative lowland populations were screened. Two mitochondrial and three nuclear genes were sequenced to test hypotheses regarding the number of species-level phylogenetic lineages present. Reported individual DNA sequences from Amazon-basin C. ambigua and other Castalia and outgroup species were included in the analysis as outgroups. Individuals from the Paraguay River basin exhibited 17 haplotypes at the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene and nine at mitochondrial 16S rRNA. Analysis of haplotype networks and phylogenetic trees of combined COI + 16S rRNA sequences among individuals with the respective shell morphologies supported the hypothesis that C. ambigua and C. inflata from the Paraguay River basin belong to the same species and one phylogenetic lineage. No variation was observed at the nuclear 18S rRNA internal transcribed spacer, 28S rRNA, or H3NR histone genes among individuals used in this study. Across all markers, less variation was observed among Paraguay basin populations than between Paraguay and Amazon basin populations. Our results collectively suggest that: (1) “C. ambigua”, “C. inflata”, and morphologically intermediate individuals within the upper Paraguay drainage represent one phylogenetic lineage, (2) a phylogeographic divide exists between Castalia populations occurring in the Paraguay and Amazon River basins, and (3) the evolutionary and taxonomic uncertainties that we have identified among Castalia species should be thoroughly assessed across their distribution using both morphological and molecular characters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Mollusk Conservation)
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Open AccessOpinion
Perception of Changes in Marine Benthic Habitats: The Relevance of Taxonomic and Ecological Memory
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 480; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120480 - 16 Dec 2020
Viewed by 276
Abstract
Having a reliable ecological reference baseline is pivotal to understanding the current status of benthic assemblages. Ecological awareness of our perception of environmental changes could be better described based on historical data. Otherwise, we meet with the shifting baseline syndrome (SBS). Facing SBS [...] Read more.
Having a reliable ecological reference baseline is pivotal to understanding the current status of benthic assemblages. Ecological awareness of our perception of environmental changes could be better described based on historical data. Otherwise, we meet with the shifting baseline syndrome (SBS). Facing SBS harmful consequences on environmental and cultural heritage, as well as on conservation strategies, requires combining historical data with contemporary biomonitoring. In the present “era of biodiversity”, we advocate for (1) the crucial role of taxonomy as a study of life diversity and (2) the robust, informative value of museum collections as memories of past ecosystem conditions. This scenario requires taxonomist skills to understand community composition and diversity, as well as to determine ecosystem change trends and rates. In this paper, we focus on six Mediterranean benthic habitats to track biological and structural changes that have occurred in the last few decades. We highlight the perception of biological changes when historical records make possible effective comparisons between past reference situations and current data. We conclude that the better we know the past, the more we understand present (and will understand future) ecosystem functioning. Achieving this goal is intrinsically linked to investing in training new taxonomists who are able to assure intergeneration connectivity to transmit cultural and environmental heritage, a key aspect to understanding and managing our changing ecosystems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Comparative Study of Carabid Beetles in Green Spaces and Former Natural Habitats
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 479; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120479 - 15 Dec 2020
Viewed by 289
Abstract
Urban expansion threatens ecosystems through direct habitat conversion. To secure urban biodiversity and enhance ecosystem services, a common focus of planning and growth management efforts is to establish green spaces. This study aimed to understand the formation process of newly created green spaces [...] Read more.
Urban expansion threatens ecosystems through direct habitat conversion. To secure urban biodiversity and enhance ecosystem services, a common focus of planning and growth management efforts is to establish green spaces. This study aimed to understand the formation process of newly created green spaces after urban development. We investigated the carabid beetle assemblages in its current habitat in a new city and in its former habitats for assessing the loss of species diversity by urban development and to identify the initial status of species assemblages in the current urban habitats, including green spaces. The diversity and composition of the carabid beetle assemblages significantly changed in the new city. The former habitat loss by urban development leaves large numbers of carabid species to dramatically decline. Carabid assemblages in current habitats may show a critical response to habitat loss, although former habitats were converted to green spaces. Some carabid species were only present in current habitats, including the green space from former habitats. In addition, the current habitat, including green spaces and other habitats, have similar carabid assemblages. Our results indicated that the loss of former habitat has a much greater effect on species diversity persistence than changes in habitat configuration and the creation of green spaces. Consequently, most carabid beetles were already lost during development. Urban habitats in new cities, including green spaces, represent simple and homogeneous habitats, although the development was designed and planned to enhance biodiversity. The present design and planning practice for green spaces that destroyed all former habitats to prepare the ground of urban areas and thereby created urban habitats, including green space, may need to be changed to secure biodiversity. Designing and planning the green spaces should consider the species’ former habitats, for instance, creating a similar type of green space to agricultural land, forest, and wetland, and thereby the former habitat remains intact to enhance biodiversity and function. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Density Dependence and Adult Survival Drive Dynamics in Two High Elevation Amphibian Populations
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 478; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120478 - 15 Dec 2020
Viewed by 298
Abstract
Amphibian conservation has progressed from the identification of declines to mitigation, but efforts are hampered by the lack of nuanced information about the effects of environmental characteristics and stressors on mechanistic processes of population regulation. Challenges include a paucity of long-term data and [...] Read more.
Amphibian conservation has progressed from the identification of declines to mitigation, but efforts are hampered by the lack of nuanced information about the effects of environmental characteristics and stressors on mechanistic processes of population regulation. Challenges include a paucity of long-term data and scant information about the relative roles of extrinsic (e.g., weather) and intrinsic (e.g., density dependence) factors. We used a Bayesian formulation of an open population capture-recapture model and >30 years of data to examine intrinsic and extrinsic factors regulating two adult boreal chorus frogs (Pseudacris maculata) populations. We modelled population growth rate and apparent survival directly, assessed their temporal variability, and derived estimates of recruitment. Populations were relatively stable (geometric mean population growth rate >1) and regulated by negative density dependence (i.e., higher population sizes reduced population growth rate). In the smaller population, density dependence also acted on adult survival. In the larger population, higher population growth was associated with warmer autumns. Survival estimates ranged from 0.30–0.87, per-capita recruitment was <1 in most years, and mean seniority probability was >0.50, suggesting adult survival is more important to population growth than recruitment. Our analysis indicates density dependence is a primary driver of population dynamics for P. maculata adults. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity and Conservation of Tree Frogs)
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Open AccessArticle
Resource Partitioning of Sympatric African Wolves (Canis lupaster) and Side-Striped Jackals (Canis adustus) in an Arid Environment from West Africa
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 477; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120477 - 15 Dec 2020
Viewed by 359
Abstract
Knowledge on interference competition between species, particularly for scarce crucial resources, such as water, is a topic of increasing relevance for wildlife management given climate change scenarios. This study focuses on two sympatric canids, the African wolf and the side-striped jackal, to evaluate [...] Read more.
Knowledge on interference competition between species, particularly for scarce crucial resources, such as water, is a topic of increasing relevance for wildlife management given climate change scenarios. This study focuses on two sympatric canids, the African wolf and the side-striped jackal, to evaluate their group size and spatiotemporal activity patterns in the use of a limited resource by monitoring artificial waterholes in a semi-arid environment located in Senegal (West Africa). Remote cameras were deployed at five artificial waterholes to evaluate the number of individuals, age and activity patterns of resource use. African wolves (n = 71; 31% of all carnivore detections) and side-striped jackals (n = 104; 45%) were the most detected carnivore species. While both canids tended to occur alone at waterholes, they showed an evident monthly variation in group size. Both species showed a high activity overlap, with a bimodal activity pattern in waterhole use. However, we found evidence of unidirectional spatiotemporal avoidance, suggesting African wolves might be dominant over side-striped jackals. Our findings provide useful insights to investigate niche partitioning on the use of limited resources and have conservation implications for regions with a prolonged dry season. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Fertilization Methods on Chemical Properties, Enzyme Activity, and Fungal Community Structure of Black Soil in Northeast China
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 476; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120476 - 14 Dec 2020
Viewed by 351
Abstract
Understanding the influence of fertilizer on soil quality is vital to agricultural management, yet there are few studies, particularly in black soil. In this study, soils under various treatments, namely no fertilizer, bio-organic + humic acid, bio-organic + chemical, and chemical fertilizer, were [...] Read more.
Understanding the influence of fertilizer on soil quality is vital to agricultural management, yet there are few studies, particularly in black soil. In this study, soils under various treatments, namely no fertilizer, bio-organic + humic acid, bio-organic + chemical, and chemical fertilizer, were sampled to identify their major physiochemical properties, and to investigate the fungal community structure using environmental sequencing techniques. Physiochemical properties and fungal community structure were examined at four important stages of the maize life cycle: seedling, jointing, heading period, and maturity. We found that chemical fertilizer in the mature stage increased the soil available phosphorous (AP) content. Organic matter content was greatly affected by bio-organic + chemical fertilizer during the mature stage. Bio-organic + humic acid significantly increased soil phosphatase activity in maturing maize, whilst chemical fertilizers reduced invertase activity. Taken together, our results clearly illustrated that bio-organic + humic and chemical fertilization indirectly alter fungal community structure via changing soil properties (especially AP). Chemical fertilizer markedly heightened the AP content, thereby decreasing specific fungal taxa, particularly Guehomyces. OM was of positive connection with bio-organic + humic acid and Mortierella abundance, respectively, through RDA analysis, which are in agreement with our result that bio-organic + humic acid fertilization to some extent increased Mortierella abundance. Additionally, bio-organic + humic acid decreased the abundance of Fusarium and Humicola, suggesting that bio-organic + humic acid possibly could help control crop disease. These results help to inform our fundamental understanding of the interactions between fertilizers, soil properties, and fungal communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Diversity, Metagenomics, and Bioinformatics)
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Open AccessArticle
Change of Ellipsoid Biovolume (EV) of Ground Beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae) along an Urban–Suburban–Rural Gradient of Central Slovakia
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 475; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120475 - 14 Dec 2020
Viewed by 290
Abstract
Changes in the structure of ground beetle communities indicate environmental stability or instability influenced by, e.g., urbanization, agriculture, and forestry. It can affect flight capability and ellipsoid biovolume (EV) of ground beetles. Therefore, we analyzed ground beetles in various habitats. In the course [...] Read more.
Changes in the structure of ground beetle communities indicate environmental stability or instability influenced by, e.g., urbanization, agriculture, and forestry. It can affect flight capability and ellipsoid biovolume (EV) of ground beetles. Therefore, we analyzed ground beetles in various habitats. In the course of the period from 2015 to 2017, we recorded in pitfall traps 2379 individuals (1030 males and 1349 females) belonging to 52 species at six localities (two rural, two suburban, two urban). We observed the decrease in the average EV value and morphometric characters (length, height, and width of the body) of ground beetles in the direction of the rural–suburban–urban gradient. Our results also suggest a decrease in EV of apterous and brachypterous species and an increase in macropterous species in the urban and suburban landscapes near agricultural fields. The increasing EV of apterous and brachypterous species and the decreasing of macropterous species was observed in rural landscape conditions with not continuous cover forestry and partial forest management. The creation of habitat fragments in urbanized conditions is key to maintaining the average EV in apterous and brachypterous species in urban and suburban landscapes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Diversity and Distribution of the Dominant Ant Genus Anonychomyrma (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the Australian Wet Tropics
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 474; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120474 - 14 Dec 2020
Viewed by 376
Abstract
Anonychomyrma is a dolichoderine ant genus of cool-temperate Gondwanan origin with a current distribution that extends from the north of southern Australia into the Australasian tropics. Despite its abundance and ecological dominance, little is known of its species diversity and distribution throughout its [...] Read more.
Anonychomyrma is a dolichoderine ant genus of cool-temperate Gondwanan origin with a current distribution that extends from the north of southern Australia into the Australasian tropics. Despite its abundance and ecological dominance, little is known of its species diversity and distribution throughout its range. Here, we describe the diversity and distribution of Anonychomyrma in the Australian Wet Tropics bioregion, where only two of the many putative species are described. We hypothesise that the genus in tropical Australia retains a preference for cool wet rainforests reminiscent of the Gondwanan forests that once dominated Australia, but now only exist in upland habitats of the Wet Tropics. Our study was based on extensive recent surveys across five subregions and along elevation and vertical (arboreal) gradients. We integrated genetic (CO1) data with morphology to recognise 22 species among our samples, 20 of which appeared to be undescribed. As predicted, diversity and endemism were concentrated in uplands above 900 m a.s.l. Distribution modelling of the nine commonest species identified maximum temperature of the warmest month, rainfall seasonality, and rainfall of the wettest month as correlates of distributional patterns across subregions. Our study supported the notion that Anonychomyrma radiated from a southern temperate origin into the tropical zone, with a preference for areas of montane rainforest that were stably cool and wet over the late quaternary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity, Biogeography and Community Ecology of Ants)
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Open AccessArticle
Vocalization Analyses of Nocturnal Arboreal Mammals of the Taita Hills, Kenya
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 473; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120473 - 13 Dec 2020
Viewed by 1876
Abstract
Three poorly known nocturnal mammal species from the montane forests of the Taita Hills in Kenya, were studied via vocalization analysis. Here, their acoustic behaviour is described. The studied animals were the tree hyrax (Dendrohyrax sp.), the small-eared greater galago (Otolemur [...] Read more.
Three poorly known nocturnal mammal species from the montane forests of the Taita Hills in Kenya, were studied via vocalization analysis. Here, their acoustic behaviour is described. The studied animals were the tree hyrax (Dendrohyrax sp.), the small-eared greater galago (Otolemur garnettii), and the dwarf galago (Paragalago sp.). High-quality loud calls were analysed using RAVEN PRO, and compared to calls of presumed closest relatives. Our findings include the first detailed descriptions of tree hyrax songs. Moreover, our results suggest that the tree hyrax of Taita Hills may be a taxon new to science, as it produces a characteristic call, the ‘strangled thwack’, not previously known from other Dendrohyrax populations. Our data confirms that the small-eared greater galago subspecies living in the Taita Hills is Otolemur garnettii lasiotis. The loud calls of the elusive Taita Hills dwarf galago closely resemble those of the Kenya coast dwarf galago (Paragalago cocos). Thus, the population in the Taita Hills probably belongs to this species. The Taita Hills dwarf galagos are geographically isolated from other dwarf galago populations, and live in montane cloud forest, which is an unusual habitat for P. cocos. Intriguingly, two dwarf galago subpopulations living in separate forest patches in the Taita Hills, Ngangao and Mbololo, have clearly different contact calls. The Paragalagos in Mbololo Forest may represent a population of P. cocos with a derived call repertoire, or, alternatively, they may actually be mountain dwarf galagos (P. orinus). Hence, differences in habitat, behaviour, and contact call structure suggest that there may be two different Paragalago species in the montane forests of the Taita Hills. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Diversity)
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Open AccessPerspective
Hemi- and Homonyms in the Big Data Era
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 472; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120472 - 13 Dec 2020
Viewed by 521
Abstract
The issue of hemi- and homonyms is an unsolved topic in the Big Data era, where informatics and technicians, rather than biologists or taxonomists, analyze huge datasets. Nowadays, taxonomic nomenclature is ruled by four independent international codes, and according to them, the existence [...] Read more.
The issue of hemi- and homonyms is an unsolved topic in the Big Data era, where informatics and technicians, rather than biologists or taxonomists, analyze huge datasets. Nowadays, taxonomic nomenclature is ruled by four independent international codes, and according to them, the existence of hemihomonyms and homonyms is accepted under some conditions as an exception to the general rule. This situation entails confusion, disagreements, and a plethora of problems whose consequences could worsen in the near future within the framework of the big data era. Moreover, the increasing use of big databases and analyses, data science, bioinformatics, biological monitoring, and bioassessment has shown such exceptions to be inconvenient, since these exceptions to homonyms are considered as duplicates by databases and statistical software, which are handled by non-taxonomist experts. International Codes of Nomenclature must change within the new context of big data analysis. This work aims to propose the elimination of any exception to the presence of homonyms and to evaluate whether the Independence Principle makes sense within this new context. Increasing coordination between several independent nomenclatural systems is essential and, perhaps, we must conduct our efforts towards a universal species list, finishing with the historical schism between Codes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Phylogeny and Evolution)
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Open AccessCommunication
Demographic Traits Variation in a Pyrenean Newt (Calotriton asper) among Lacustrine and Stream Populations
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 471; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120471 - 12 Dec 2020
Viewed by 348
Abstract
Demographic traits were analyzed in the Pyrenean brook newt (Calotriton asper) to evaluate whether its variability responds to the adaptation to the different habitats. In this study, life history traits of Calotriton asper were studied in nine populations living in two [...] Read more.
Demographic traits were analyzed in the Pyrenean brook newt (Calotriton asper) to evaluate whether its variability responds to the adaptation to the different habitats. In this study, life history traits of Calotriton asper were studied in nine populations living in two different kinds of habitats in the Pyrenees mountains: lakes and streams. Skeletochronology was used to determine age structure and different traits such as age at maturity and longevity. Age structure was different between populations and sexes. The two lacustrine populations, with facultative pedomorphosis, attained their maturity earlier. Age at sexual maturity ranged from 4 to 9 years and in some populations was similar between sexes while in others, females matured at younger ages than males. Maximum longevity varied from 7 to 35 years among populations and was correlated with the age at sexual maturity. Body size differed among populations, was sexually dimorphic, and this disparity was not related to the kind of habitat. The maximum size was found in the lacustrine population but exhibited high variation between populations. The results obtained show a significant variability between sexes and populations, in age and body size structure of Calotriton asper that did not depend on the habitat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Phylogeny and Evolution)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Consumption of Carnivores by Wolves: A Worldwide Analysis of Patterns and Drivers
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 470; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120470 - 11 Dec 2020
Viewed by 560
Abstract
The occurrence of carnivore species in wolf diet has been overlooked and poorly studied despite the potential implications for wolf ecology and wildlife management. We conducted an extensive literature review, focusing on 120 wolf diet studies worldwide to assess global patterns of carnivore [...] Read more.
The occurrence of carnivore species in wolf diet has been overlooked and poorly studied despite the potential implications for wolf ecology and wildlife management. We conducted an extensive literature review, focusing on 120 wolf diet studies worldwide to assess global patterns of carnivore consumption by wolves and their ecological and human-related determinants. We used a total of 143 sampling sites with data on the consumption of carnivores by wolves. In total, 35 carnivore species were reported to be consumed by wolves, comprising members of all taxonomic carnivore families represented within the gray wolf range. The carnivores were mostly limited to occasional consumption (<5% of wolf diet) but could account for as much as 25% in some study areas. The most frequently consumed carnivore species were those with reported scavenging behavior, belonging to medium-sized generalist canids. Generalized linear model (GLM) analysis revealed that higher magnitudes of carnivore consumption were related to nonprotected areas as well as lower occurrences of wild ungulates, domestic ungulates, and small mammals in wolf diet, while higher numbers of consumed carnivore species were related to nonprotected areas with low vegetation productivity and lower occurrences of domestic ungulates and small mammals in wolf diet. Our results suggest that carnivore consumption by wolves is driven by altered ecosystems and human-dominated landscapes, where mesopredator densities are often increased and prey densities decreased, which intensify competition and the need for alternative food sources. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Current State and Drivers of Arable Plant Diversity in Conventionally Managed Farmland in Northwest Germany
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 469; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120469 - 11 Dec 2020
Viewed by 235
Abstract
Agricultural intensification has led to dramatic diversity losses and impoverishment of the arable vegetation in much of Europe. We analyzed the status of farmland phytodiversity and its determinants in 2016 in northwest Germany by surveying 200 conventionally managed fields cultivated with seven crops. [...] Read more.
Agricultural intensification has led to dramatic diversity losses and impoverishment of the arable vegetation in much of Europe. We analyzed the status of farmland phytodiversity and its determinants in 2016 in northwest Germany by surveying 200 conventionally managed fields cultivated with seven crops. The study was combined with an analysis of edaphic (soil yield potential), agronomic (crop cover, fertilizer and herbicide use) and landscape factors (adjacent habitats). In total, we recorded 150 non-crop plant species, many of them nitrophilous generalist species, while species of conservation value were almost completely absent. According to a post-hoc pairwise comparison of the mixed model results, the cultivation of rapeseed positively influenced non-crop plant species richness as compared to winter cereals (wheat, barley, rye and triticale; data pooled), maize or potato. The presence of grassy strips and ditch margins adjacent to fields increased plant richness at field edges presumably through spillover effects. In the field interiors, median values of non-crop plant richness and cover were only 2 species and 0.5% cover across all crops, and at the field edges 11 species and 4% cover. Agricultural intensification has wiped out non-crop plant life nearly completely from conventionally managed farmland, except for a narrow, floristically impoverished field edge strip. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Biodiversity Loss & Dynamics)
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Open AccessArticle
Genomic Screening Reveals That the Endangered Eucalyptus paludicola (Myrtaceae) Is a Hybrid
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 468; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120468 - 10 Dec 2020
Viewed by 260
Abstract
A hybrid origin for a conservation listed taxon will influence its status and management options. Here, we investigate the genetic origins of a nationally endangered listed taxon—Eucalyptus paludicola—a tree that is restricted to the Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island of South [...] Read more.
A hybrid origin for a conservation listed taxon will influence its status and management options. Here, we investigate the genetic origins of a nationally endangered listed taxon—Eucalyptus paludicola—a tree that is restricted to the Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island of South Australia. Since its description in 1995, there have been suggestions that this taxon may potentially be a stable hybrid species. Using a high throughput sequencing approach, we developed a panel of polymorphic loci that were screened across E. paludicola and its putative parental species E. cosmophylla and E. ovata. Bayesian clustering of the genotype data identified separate groups comprising E. ovata and E. cosmophylla while E. paludicola individuals were admixed between these two, consistent with a hybrid origin. Hybrid class assignment tests indicate that the majority of E. paludicola individuals (~70%) are F1 hybrids with a low incidence of backcrossing. Most of the post-F1 hybrids were associated with revegetation sites suggesting they may be maladapted and rarely reach maturity under natural conditions. These data support the hypothesis that E. paludicola is a transient hybrid entity rather than a distinct hybrid species. We briefly discuss the conservation implications of our findings. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Reproduction in Urbanised Coastal Waters: Shallow-Water Sea Anemones (Entacmaea quadricolor and Stichodactyla haddoni) Maintain High Genetic Diversity and Panmixia
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 467; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120467 - 08 Dec 2020
Viewed by 520
Abstract
Sea anemones are sedentary marine animals that tend to disperse via planktonic larvae and are predicted to have high population connectivity in undisturbed habitats. We test whether two sea anemone species living in two different tidal zones of a highly disturbed marine environment [...] Read more.
Sea anemones are sedentary marine animals that tend to disperse via planktonic larvae and are predicted to have high population connectivity in undisturbed habitats. We test whether two sea anemone species living in two different tidal zones of a highly disturbed marine environment can maintain high genetic connectivity. More than 1000 loci with single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were obtained with double-digest RADseq for 81 Stichodactyla haddoni and 99 Entacmaea quadricolor individuals to test for population genetic structure. We find evidence that both species predominantly propagate via sexual reproduction, and asexual reproduction is limited. We observe panmixia that indicates the absence of effective dispersal barriers for these species living in a highly anthropogenically disturbed environment. This is positive news for both species that are also found in the aquarium trade. More fundamentally, our results suggest that inhabiting different parts of a shallow reef may not affect a species’ population connectivity nor favour asexual reproduction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Biodiversity of Marine Invertebrates)
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Open AccessArticle
Indo-Pacific Phylogeography of the Lemon Sponge Leucetta chagosensis
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 466; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120466 - 07 Dec 2020
Viewed by 870
Abstract
The sponge Leucetta chagosensis Dendy (1913) has a wide distribution throughout the Indo-Pacific (IP) region, with previous studies focussing primarily on the western Pacific Ocean. To increase our knowledge of the spatial variation of genetic diversity throughout the IP, we constructed a phylogeny [...] Read more.
The sponge Leucetta chagosensis Dendy (1913) has a wide distribution throughout the Indo-Pacific (IP) region, with previous studies focussing primarily on the western Pacific Ocean. To increase our knowledge of the spatial variation of genetic diversity throughout the IP, we constructed a phylogeny for L. chagosensis for the IP to assess the evolutionary patterns for this species. We generated 188 sequences of L. chagosensis and constructed maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference trees, using concatenated mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit 3 gene (cox3) and nuclear ribosomal RNA gene (28S) markers for the first time. The spatial variation of genetic diversity of L. chagosensis was assessed using a phylogeographic approach. Leucetta chagosensis is composed of five cryptic lineages confined to different biogeographic regions with the specimens found in the Indian Ocean differing significantly from those found in the rest of the IP region. Genetic divergence was particularly high for the cox3 marker, with a low nucleotide diversity but high haplotype diversity for most lineages. This study highlights the need for a sustained effort in studying sponge diversity, boosted by the ongoing discovery of hidden biodiversity among this ecologically important taxon. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Biodiversity of Marine Invertebrates)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Epilithic Diatom Community Shows a Higher Vulnerability of the River Sava to Pollution during the Winter
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 465; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120465 - 05 Dec 2020
Viewed by 314
Abstract
The aim of the research was to investigate the influence of environmental factors on the structure of epilithic diatom communities in the Sava River from the source to the state border 220 km downstream. The river had numerous human influences along its course, [...] Read more.
The aim of the research was to investigate the influence of environmental factors on the structure of epilithic diatom communities in the Sava River from the source to the state border 220 km downstream. The river had numerous human influences along its course, such as municipal and industrial wastewater, agriculture, hydroelectric power plants, etc. The main objective of the research was to find out the influence of human pressure on the structure of the epilithic diatom community under winter and summer conditions. Winter and summer samples were taken at nine sites. At each sampling site, a set of abiotic factors was measured and another set of environmental parameters was evaluated. The analyses showed that nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations increased downstream. We identified 118 different species of diatoms. The most common taxa were Achnanthidium minutissimum and A. pyrenaicum. Planktonic species Cyclotella meneghiniana was only found in the samples of the lower part of the Sava, which is unusual for the epilithic community. The composition of the epilithic diatom community was significantly influenced by conductivity and water temperature, pH and distance from the source. The similarity between diatom communities closer to the source of the river was higher than between communities from the lower part of the Sava River. The values of the trophic and saprobic indices increased downstream and showed that the pollution of the river with nutrients and organic matter increases with the distance from the source. Both indices were significantly higher in winter and showed a more impaired river ecosystem during the winter. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Taxonomy, Ecology and Biogeography of Diatoms)
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Open AccessArticle
Seawater Acidification Affects Beta-Diversity of Benthic Communities at a Shallow Hydrothermal Vent in a Mediterranean Marine Protected Area (Underwater Archaeological Park of Baia, Naples, Italy)
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 464; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120464 - 04 Dec 2020
Viewed by 432
Abstract
One of the most important pieces of climate change evidence is ocean acidification. Acidification effects on marine organisms are widely studied, while very little is known regarding its effects on assemblages’ β-diversity. In this framework, shallow hydrothermal vents within a Marine Protected Area [...] Read more.
One of the most important pieces of climate change evidence is ocean acidification. Acidification effects on marine organisms are widely studied, while very little is known regarding its effects on assemblages’ β-diversity. In this framework, shallow hydrothermal vents within a Marine Protected Area (MPA) represent natural ecosystems acting as laboratory set-ups where the continuous carbon dioxide emissions affect assemblages with consequences that can be reasonably comparable to the effects of global water acidification. The aim of the present study is to test the impact of seawater acidification on the β-diversity of soft-bottom assemblages in a shallow vent field located in the Underwater Archeological Park of Baia MPA (Gulf of Naples, Mediterranean Sea). We investigated macro- and meiofauna communities of the ‘Secca delle fumose’ vent system in sites characterized by sulfurous (G) and carbon dioxide emissions (H) that are compared with control/inactive sites (CN and CS). Statistical analyses were performed on the most represented macrobenthic (Mollusca, Polychaeta, and Crustacea), and meiobenthic (Nematoda) taxa. Results show that the lowest synecological values are detected at H and, to a lesser extent, at G. Multivariate analyses show significant differences between hydrothermal vents (G, H) and control/inactive sites; the highest small-scale heterogeneities (measure of β-diversity) are detected at sites H and G and are mainly affected by pH, TOC (Total Organic Carbon), and cations concentrations. Such findings are probably related to acidification effects, since MPA excludes anthropic impacts. In particular, acidification markedly affects β-diversity and an increase in heterogeneity among sample replicates coupled to a decrease in number of taxa is an indicator of redundancy loss and, thus, of resilience capacity. The survival is assured to either tolerant species or those opportunistic taxa that can find good environmental conditions among gravels of sand. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Protected Areas Management and Monitoring)
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Open AccessArticle
Biometry, Distribution and Genetic Characterization of Blue Jack Mackerel Trachurus picturatus (Bowdich, 1825), a Rare Pelagic Fish Species in the Adriatic Sea
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 463; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120463 - 03 Dec 2020
Viewed by 299
Abstract
The blue jack mackerel Trachurus picturatus (Bowdich, 1825) specimens (N = 155) were collected during the MEDITS survey, done along the eastern side, precisely, of the Croatian fishing ground in July 2018. Biometrical analysis of ten morphometric and five meristic characters, as well [...] Read more.
The blue jack mackerel Trachurus picturatus (Bowdich, 1825) specimens (N = 155) were collected during the MEDITS survey, done along the eastern side, precisely, of the Croatian fishing ground in July 2018. Biometrical analysis of ten morphometric and five meristic characters, as well as genetic analysis proved that the collected specimens were blue jack mackerel. The total length (TL) and weight (W) of all observed specimens ranged from 9.2 to 33.7 cm (12.15 ± 2.95 cm) and from 5.79 to 384.94 g (17.64 ± 39.42 g), respectively. All calculated length–length relationships were linear (r > 0.923). Sex was determined only on two larger specimens (28 cm < TL < 32.8 cm), which were females. In the length–weight relationship, positive allometry was established (b = 3.1789). Based on 37 partial cytochrome b sequences, the overall haplotype diversity (h) of 0.812 ± 0.048 and nucleotide diversity (π) of 0.0064 ± 0.0007 indicated high levels of haplotype and low nucleotide diversity. The obtained sequences were compared to previously published research within the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, confirming the absence of genetic structure among these populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity in Mediterranean Sea Ecosystem)
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Open AccessArticle
Peatland Development, Vegetation History, Climate Change and Human Activity in the Valdai Uplands (Central European Russia) during the Holocene: A Multi-Proxy Palaeoecological Study
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 462; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120462 - 03 Dec 2020
Viewed by 482
Abstract
Peatlands are remarkable for their specific biodiversity, crucial role in carbon cycling and climate change. Their deposits preserve organism remains that can be used to reconstruct long-term ecosystem and environmental changes as well as human impact in the prehistorical and historical past. This [...] Read more.
Peatlands are remarkable for their specific biodiversity, crucial role in carbon cycling and climate change. Their deposits preserve organism remains that can be used to reconstruct long-term ecosystem and environmental changes as well as human impact in the prehistorical and historical past. This study presents a new multi-proxy reconstruction of the peatland and vegetation development investigating climate dynamics and human impact at the border between mixed and boreal forests in the Valdai Uplands (the East European Plain, Russia) during most of the Holocene. We performed plant macrofossil, pollen, testate amoeba, Cladocera, diatom, peat humification, loss on ignition, carbon and nitrogen content, δ13C and δ15N analyses supported by radiocarbon dating of the peat deposits from the Krivetskiy Mokh mire. The results of the study indicate that the wetland ecosystem underwent a classic hydroserial succession from a lake (8300 BC–900 BC) terrestrialized through a fen (900 BC–630 AD) to an ombrotrophic bog (630 AD–until present) and responded to climate changes documented over the Holocene. Each stage was associated with clear changes in local diversity of organisms responding mostly to autogenic successional changes during the lake stage and to allogenic factors at the fen-bog stage. The latter can be related to increased human impact and greater sensitivity of peatland ecosystems to external, especially climatic, drivers as compared to lakes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology, Biogeography and Evolutionary Biology of Peatlands)
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Open AccessArticle
Recent History, Use and Forgetfulness of the Cypress Forest of Fontegreca (Southern Italy)
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 461; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120461 - 02 Dec 2020
Viewed by 386
Abstract
The cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) is characterized by a very ancient history linked to the wide employment for the technological properties of its wood and for its symbolic value. Although this tree was often considered as a species introduced in Italy, the [...] Read more.
The cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) is characterized by a very ancient history linked to the wide employment for the technological properties of its wood and for its symbolic value. Although this tree was often considered as a species introduced in Italy, the first genetic studies showed, instead, the presence of an autochthonous population of C. sempervirens in the forest of Fontegreca (Matese massif, Southern Italy), which constitutes the unique autochthonous cypress woodland present in Southwestern and Western Europe. Therefore, investigations were carried out in selected (using geomorphological criteria) areas of the forest, through soil chemical analysis, identification and 14C dating of soil charcoals. Indeed, we hypothesize that these analyses allow clarifying the history of this woodland characterized by the dominance of the cypress in the forest cover. Areas at medium-low (17–29°) slope gradient on the eastern and southern slopes of the forest were investigated and sampled, following pedological criteria (soil horizons order). Soil morphological and chemical analysis showed humus-rich surface horizons, thin (15–30 cm) and poorly developed (young) soils, overlapping the bedrock limestones. The first soil charcoal analysis data highlighted the presence of a previous landscape characterized by several species (e.g., Pistacia, Ostrya carpinifolia, Juniperus sp. and Pinus sp.) and, probably, by a different forest structure. Ongoing charcoal identification and 14C dating will likely give a better understanding of both (1) the cypress history and (2) the development of this forest landscape. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Biology of Vascular Plants)
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Open AccessArticle
Do Dominant Ants Affect Secondary Productivity, Behavior and Diversity in a Guild of Woodland Ants?
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 460; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120460 - 02 Dec 2020
Viewed by 574
Abstract
The degree to which competition by dominant species shapes ecological communities remains a largely unresolved debate. In ants, unimodal dominance–richness relationships are common and suggest that dominant species, when very abundant, competitively exclude non-dominant species. However, few studies have investigated the underlying mechanisms [...] Read more.
The degree to which competition by dominant species shapes ecological communities remains a largely unresolved debate. In ants, unimodal dominance–richness relationships are common and suggest that dominant species, when very abundant, competitively exclude non-dominant species. However, few studies have investigated the underlying mechanisms by which dominant ants might affect coexistence and the maintenance of species richness. In this study, we first examined the relationship between the richness of non-dominant ant species and the abundance of a dominant ant species, Formica subsericea, among forest ant assemblages in the eastern US. This relationship was hump-shaped or not significant depending on the inclusion or exclusion of an influential observation. Moreover, we found only limited evidence that F. subsericea negatively affects the productivity or behavior of non-dominant ant species. For example, at the colony-level, the size and productivity of colonies of non-dominant ant species were not different when they were in close proximity to dominant ant nests than when they were away and, in fact, was associated with increased productivity in one species. Additionally, the number of foraging workers of only one non-dominant ant species was lower at food sources near than far from dominant F. subsericea nests, while the number of foragers of other species was not negatively affected. However, foraging activity of the non-dominant ant species was greater at night when F. subsericea was inactive, suggesting a potential mechanism by which some non-dominant species avoid interactions with competitively superior species. Gaining a mechanistic understanding of how patterns of community structure arise requires linking processes from colonies to communities. Our study suggests the negative effects of dominant ant species on non-dominant species may be offset by mechanisms promoting coexistence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity, Biogeography and Community Ecology of Ants)
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Open AccessArticle
Macroinvertebrate Taxonomic Richness in Minimally Disturbed Streams on the Southeastern USA Coastal Plain
Diversity 2020, 12(12), 459; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12120459 - 01 Dec 2020
Viewed by 308
Abstract
Collections made over 20 years with a multiple habitat sampling protocol and Hester–Dendy artificial substrate samplers were used to assess macroinvertebrate genera richness in first- to fourth-order streams on the Savannah River Site (SRS), a 780-km2, U.S. government reservation on the [...] Read more.
Collections made over 20 years with a multiple habitat sampling protocol and Hester–Dendy artificial substrate samplers were used to assess macroinvertebrate genera richness in first- to fourth-order streams on the Savannah River Site (SRS), a 780-km2, U.S. government reservation on the upper South Carolina, USA, coastal plain. We collected 312 genera representing 114 families including 268 genera and 87 families of insects. The total number of genera from each stream averaged 139 (97–194) with totals of 171–261 for drainages with more than one stream. Larger streams supported more macroinvertebrate genera, but small headwater streams supported genera not found in higher-order streams and contributed to drainage-wide richness. Sampling effort expressed as number of individuals collected or sites sampled and sampling duration influenced genera richness more than other factors. Genera accumulation curves showed that full representation of richness required several years of sampling and the inclusion of sampling sites that represented all habitats. Upper Three Runs, known for high insect species richness, was the most genera-rich stream, but richness was nearly comparable in other streams after adjusting for sampling effort. Some SRS streams are minimally exposed to anthropogenic disturbance, making them relatively unique in the southeastern USA Sand Hills and valuable as reference models. Full article
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