Contrasting species and functional beta diversity in montane ant assemblages

Bishop, Tom R, Robertson, Mark P, van Rensburg, Berndt J and Parr, Catherine L (2015) Contrasting species and functional beta diversity in montane ant assemblages. Journal of Biogeography, 42 9: 1776-1786. doi:10.1111/jbi.12537

Author Bishop, Tom R
Robertson, Mark P
van Rensburg, Berndt J
Parr, Catherine L
Title Contrasting species and functional beta diversity in montane ant assemblages
Journal name Journal of Biogeography   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1365-2699
Publication date 2015-09
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/jbi.12537
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 42
Issue 9
Start page 1776
End page 1786
Total pages 11
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Beta diversity describes the variation in species composition between sites and can be used to infer why different species occupy different parts of the globe. It can be viewed in a number of ways. First, it can be partitioned into two distinct patterns: turnover and nestedness. Second, it can be investigated from either a species identity or a functional-trait point of view. We aim to document for the first time how these two aspects of beta diversity vary in response to a large environmental gradient.

Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains, southern Africa.

We sampled ant assemblages along an extensive elevational gradient (900–3000 m a.s.l.) twice yearly for 7 years, and collected functional-trait information related to the species’ dietary and habitat-structure preferences. We used recently developed methods to partition species and functional beta diversity into their turnover and nestedness components. A series of null models were used to test whether the observed beta diversity patterns differed from random expectations.

Species beta diversity was driven by turnover, but functional beta diversity was composed of both turnover and nestedness patterns at different parts of the gradient. Null models revealed that deterministic processes were likely to be responsible for the species patterns but that the functional changes were indistinguishable from stochasticity.

Main conclusions
Different ant species are found with increasing elevation, but they tend to represent an increasingly nested subset of the available functional strategies. This finding is unique and narrows down the list of possible factors that control ant existence across elevation. We conclude that diet and habitat preferences have little role in structuring ant assemblages in montane environments and that some other factor must be driving the non-random patterns of species turnover. This finding also highlights the importance of distinguishing between different kinds of beta diversity.
Keyword Ants
Beta diversity
Elevational gradient
Functional beta diversity
Functional traits
Southern Africa
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 2 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 3 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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