Eucalyptus plantations as hybrid ecosystems: Implications for species conservation in the Brazilian Atlantic forest
Publication date: 15 February 2019
Source: Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 433
Author(s): A. Tavares, W. Beiroz, A. Fialho, F. Frazão, R. Macedo, J. Louzada, L. Audino
Novel and hybrid ecosystems present different conservation values for native species. Therefore, the classification of modified ecosystems into a novel or hybrid state is an essential step to assist conservation strategies for biodiversity. During the last decades, plantations of Eucalyptus have increased in the highly threatened Atlantic Forest region, highlighting the importance of defining this ecosystem as novel or hybrid. In this study, we evaluated whether Eucalyptus plantations are novel or hybrid ecosystems by contrasting biotic components (dung beetle communities) and abiotic components (local environmental variables) within historical (Atlantic Forest remnants) and non-historical (pasture) environments in the Atlantic Forest biome, located in Bahia state, Brazil. Our results show that Eucalyptus plantations should be classified and managed as a hybrid ecosystem in this biome. Of the 21 dung beetle species found in Eucalyptus, ten were shared with historical forests (52.6% of Eucalyptus species) and 6 with pastures (31.5%). Eucalyptus plantations have environmental aspects similar to both historical forests and pastures. Despite presenting similar components to historical and non-historical ecosystems, Eucalyptus plantations are sufficiently distinct not to be classified as either one of them. Our results highlight the potential conservation value of Eucalyptus plantations in the Atlantic Forest region as complementary habitat for historical species, and we discuss how alternative management at landscape and stand (local) scales might increase this value. Although dung beetles are an excellent group to monitor biodiversity, we reinforce the necessity to perform further studies using another taxon that present different ecosystem requirements.
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