Small mammals as indicators of cryptic plant species diversity in the central Chilean plant endemicity hotspot
Keywords: Cryptic species; Diversity; Endemic; Indicator species; Octodon degus; Plant
Indicator species could help to compensate for a shortfall of knowledge about the diversity and distributions of undersampled and cryptic species. This paper provides background knowledge about the ecological interactions that affect and are affected by herbaceous diversity in central Chile, as part of the indicator species selection process. We focus on the ecosystem engineering role of small mammals, primarily the degu Octodon degus. We also consider the interacting effects of shrubs, trees, avian activity, livestock, slope, and soil quality on herbaceous communities in central Chile. We sampled herbaceous diversity on a private landholding characterized by a mosaic of savanna, grassland and matorral, across a range of degu disturbance intensities. We find that the strongest factors affecting endemic herbaceous diversity are density of degu runways, shrub cover and avian activity. Our results show that the degu, a charismatic and easily identifiable and countable species, could be used as an indicator species to aid potential conservation actions such as private protected area uptake. We map areas in central Chile where degus may indicate endemic plant diversity. This area is larger than expected, and suggests that significant areas of endemic plant communities may still exist, and should be identified and protected.
|Título según SCOPUS:||Small mammals as indicators of cryptic plant species diversity in the central Chilean plant endemicity hotspot|
|Título de la Revista:||GLOBAL ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION|
|Fecha de publicación:||2014|
|Página de inicio:||277|