Rubber plantation is the most important commercial monoculture crop in northern Southeast Asia. Despite the large number of studies documenting the biological impacts of rubber plantations, most focus on changes in overall diversity, and little attention has been paid to other ecological aspects such as biogeographic affinities.
In a recent study published inMyrmecological News, researchers from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) presented a case study that investigated the impacts of rubber plantations on the breadth of the species geographic ranges in Xishuangbanna, Southwest Chin
The researchers used an online database (antmaps.org) to compare the geographic distribution of ants in major habitat types (rainforest, limestone forest, and rubber plantation) in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China..
They furthermore conducted a meta-analysis of 24 other papers and compared the geographic distribution of ants in primary and secondary forests, and rubber plantations.
Their case study and the meta-analysis showed consistent patterns with wider geographic distributions of ants in rubber plantations than natural habitats, suggesting that forest conversion to rubber plantations facilitated colonization by generalist ants with wider geographic distributions.
The study was part of a research project at the Advanced Field Course in Ecology and Conservation-Xihuangbanna 2015 (AFEC-X 2015) hosted by XTBG.
Mark Jun M. Alcantara
Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China E-mail: email@example.com