Alex Salas-Lopez

PhD defended on September, 29th 2016

Trophic diversity and ecosystem processes participation of ants on anthropization gradients

Biological conservation is in urgent need of accurate and easy-to-measure indicators, identifying the main components of biodiversity and/or functional diversity necessary to maintain ecosystem’s equilibrium. The relationships between species diversity and functional traits, and their relevance on ecosystem functioning and services, are however, poorly understood.
Because of their widespread distribution, abundance and ecological dominance, ants constitute an interesting model to study ecosystem functioning. Due to their biomass alone, ants have profound effects on the ecosystems, and they are also involved in many ecosystem functions like plant protection, seed dispersal, predation or detritivory.
The aim of this study is to a) identify the components of ant diversity delivering a set of important ecosystem functions, b) model ecosystem processes delivered by ants is relation to community structure modifications resulting from anthropogenic perturbations, c) determine the mechanisms allowing the coexistence of a high number of species exploiting a reduced number of similar resources, and d) examine how functional diversity is likely to affect ecosystem’s resilience on different ecosystem processes.
To answer these questions standard diversity methods for ant sampling will be combined with “cafeteria” experiments using a set of food baits representing important ecosystem functions on which ants participate. These will be applied at different ecosystem levels (soil, understory and eventually trees), and on different habitats representing an anthropization gradient, and eventually natural perturbations like tree gaps.
In a second part of the PhD different dimension of ant functional diversity will be explored in relation to habitat simplification. The inter-relations between several functional traits (trophic, morphological, behavioral …) and the effects of perturbations on specific components of functional diversity will provide a better understanding of which are the more fragile aspects of ant community structure and how may this affect ecosystem processes boundaries and ecosystem resilience.

FSE Guyane {PNG}Union Européenne {PNG}

Student funded by the European Union and labex Ceba.

Labex Ceba {PNG}

View online : http://www.ecofog.gf/greybase/files...

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