Ant assemblages in isolated trees are more sensitive to species loss and replacement than their woodland counterparts
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Isolated trees possess an arthropod assemblage different to that found in woodland trees. While isolated trees become an increasingly dominant part of many landscapes, with ‘off reserve’ habitat conservation potential, we know little about the drivers of their assemblage structure. While sampling bimonthly for 12 months in the seasonally dry tropics of Mexico, we characterized the ant species most likely to occupy isolated trees in comparison to small woody patches (‘matorral’; 0.13–0.74 ha), and examined the influence of environmental variables on the respective ant assemblages at both canopy and ground level. Isolated trees possessed a predictable ant assemblage: when compared to the woodland patches, isolated trees were characterised by a lack of specialised arboreal species and an increase in generalised terrestrial species reaching the canopy. Arboreal woodland ant species were as affected by tree isolation as the terrestrial woodland ant fauna.
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