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Variability of ant community composition in cork oak woodlands across the Mediterranean region: implications for forest management

Marcello Verdinelli (1)   , Salah Eddine Bakkali Yakhlef (2), Carlo Simone Cossu (1), Oriana Pilia (1), Roberto Mannu (1)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 10, Issue 4, Pages 707-714 (2017)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor2321-010
Published: Jul 27, 2017 - Copyright © 2017 SISEF

Research Articles


We evaluated the potential use of ants as a powerful tool for environmental monitoring, together with the applicability of the functional group approach as an alternative method for studying ant communities in cork oak woodlands. Variations in ant community composition, diversity and functional groups were studied in two cork oak forested sites across the Mediterranean region. Ants were sampled using pitfall traps placed along linear transects at 12 sites located in the main cork districts of Italy and Morocco (Gallura in Sardinia, and Maâmora, east of Rabat). A total of 13.501 specimens were collected, belonging to 38 species (five shared species). A distinct separation in the NMDS plots between Gallura and Maâmora ant assemblages was clearly visible. Ant species composition was widely different between the two districts and significant differences were detected within the Gallura district at the species level. Opportunist species were well represented in Gallura (about 27% of average Bray-Curtis similarity) as well as cryptic species (over 23%). In the Maâmora forest, generalized Myrmicinae, hot climate specialists and opportunists contributed equally to the average similarity (together about 53%). Multi-scale ant diversity showed that the true turnover was higher in Gallura than in Maâmora. These findings support the idea that the functional group approach, rather than species diversity per se, could be considered as a valuable tool to detect the response of the ant community to environmental changes in Mediterranean cork oak woodlands. Using ants as bioindicators could help not only in detecting early warning signs of habitat disturbance, but also in defining a useful management strategy to increase the resilience of agroforestry systems under future global change scenarios.

  Keywords


Cork Oak, Forest Management, Ants, Bioindicators

Authors’ address

(1)
Marcello Verdinelli
Carlo Simone Cossu
Oriana Pilia
Roberto Mannu
Istituto per lo Studio degli Ecosistemi, CNR, Traversa La Crucca 3, 07100 Sassari (Italy)
(2)
Salah Eddine Bakkali Yakhlef
Division de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la la Recherche et du Développement, Direction de l’Enseignement, de la Formation et de la Recherche, Station D’bagh - Avenue Hassan II, B.P. 607 Rabat (Morocco)

Corresponding author

 
Marcello Verdinelli
m.verdinelli@ise.cnr.it

Citation

Verdinelli M, Yakhlef SEB, Cossu CS, Pilia O, Mannu R (2017). Variability of ant community composition in cork oak woodlands across the Mediterranean region: implications for forest management. iForest 10: 707-714. - doi: 10.3832/ifor2321-010

Academic Editor

Massimo Faccoli

Paper history

Received: Dec 19, 2016
Accepted: May 12, 2017

First online: Jul 27, 2017
Publication Date: Aug 31, 2017
Publication Time: 2.53 months

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