Methods for conservation outside of formal reserve systems: The case of ants in the seasonally dry tropics of Veracruz, Mexico
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Like most ecosystems of the world, tropical dry forests of the central coast of the Gulf of Mexico are inadequately preserved. Given that reserve expansion is unlikely, it is imperative that the conservation capacity of the matrix surrounding reserves is enhanced. Here, we examine the habitat value of isolated pasture trees and patches of secondary regrowth in terms of their terrestrial and arboreal ant assemblages in both a wet and dry season. These simplified wooded systems increase species densities within the agricultural matrix and provide habitat for some forest ant species. Estimated species richness of arboreal ants was particularly low on isolated trees, highlighting an important limitation. This was not the case for terrestrial ants, which were particularly species rich under isolated trees. We also found that the inter-site variations in species densities and similarity to the forest ant assemblage for terrestrial and arboreal strata were not correlated, suggesting that responses to restoration may not be as uniform as often thought.
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