Methods matter: Different biodiversity survey methodologies identify contrasting biodiversity patterns in a human modified rainforest — A case study with amphibians

Whitworth, A., Villacampa, J., Serrano Rojas, S. J., Downie, R. and MacLeod, R. (2017) Methods matter: Different biodiversity survey methodologies identify contrasting biodiversity patterns in a human modified rainforest — A case study with amphibians. Ecological Indicators, 72, pp. 821-832. (doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2016.08.055)

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Abstract

Understanding how well tropical forest biodiversity can recover following habitat change is often difficult due to conflicting assessments arising from different studies. One often overlooked potentially confounding factor that may influence assessments of biodiversity response to habitat change, is the possibility that different survey methodologies, targeting the same indicator taxon, may identify different patterns and so lead to different conclusions. Here we investigated whether two different but commonly used survey methodologies used to assess amphibian communities, pitfall trapping and nocturnal transects, indicate the same or different responses of amphibian biodiversity to historic human induced habitat change. We did so in a regenerating rainforest study site located in one of the world’s most biodiverse and important conservation areas: the Manu Biosphere Reserve. We show that the two survey methodologies tested identified contrasting biodiversity patterns in a human modified rainforest. Nocturnal transect surveys indicated biodiversity differences between forest with different human disturbance histories, whereas pitfall trap surveys suggested no differences between forest disturbance types, except for community composition. This pattern was true for species richness, diversity, overall abundance and community evenness and structure. For some fine scale metrics, such as species specific responses and abundances of family groups, both methods detected differences between disturbance types. However, the direction of differences was inconsistent between methods. We highlight that for assessments of rainforest recovery following disturbance, survey methods do matter and that different biodiversity survey methods can identify contrasting patterns in response to different types of historic disturbance. Our results contribute to a growing body of evidence that arboreal species might be more sensitive indicators than terrestrial communities.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Whitworth, Dr Andy and MacLeod, Dr Ross and Downie, Professor Roger
Authors: Whitworth, A., Villacampa, J., Serrano Rojas, S. J., Downie, R., and MacLeod, R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Ecological Indicators
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1470-160X
ISSN (Online):1872-7034
Published Online:21 September 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Elsevier
First Published:First published in Ecological Indicators 72:921-832
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
676282Sustainable Manu: biodiversity conservation through sustainable development and rainforest regenerationRoss MacLeodCrees Foundation (CREES)UNSPECIFIEDRI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED
675112Amazon Research Programme: Leveraging the value of conservation research (ARP)Ross MacLeodT&J Meyer Family Foundation (T&JMEYER)UNSPECIFIEDRI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED