Assessing ecological disturbance in neotropical forest landscapes using high-level diversity and high-level functionality: surprising outcomes from a case study with spider assemblages
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Spiders have been increasingly used as environmental and ecological indicators in conservation and ecosystem management. In the Neotropics, there is a shortage of information regarding spiders’ taxonomies and ecological responses to anthropogenic disturbances. To unravel these hitches, we tested the possibility of using high-level diversity and high-level functionality indicators to evaluate spider assemblages’ sensitivity to landscape changes. This approach, if proven informative, might overcome the relevant limitations of taxonomic derived indexes, which are considered time-consuming, cost-demanding and dependent on the (few) expert taxonomists’ availability. Our results highlight the pertinence of both indicators’ responses to the structural changes induced by increasing anthropogenic disturbance, and are associated with reductions in ecosystem complexity, microclimates, and microhabitats. Overall, both indicators were sensitive to structural changes induced by anthropogenic disturbance and should be considered a useful resource for assessing the extent of ecosystems’ disruptions in the Neotropics, and also to guide managers in landscapes’ restoration.
Gonzalez DC, Cajaiba RL, Périco E, Silva WB, Brescovit AD, Crespi AML, et al. Assessing ecological disturbance in neotropical forest landscapes using high-level diversity and high-level functionality: surprising outcomes from a case study with spider assemblages. Land. 2021 July;10(7):758. doi:10.3390/land10070758.
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