Biodiversity has decreased due to anthropogenic activities, and extinction rates are currently one hundred to one thousand times greater than the background rate. While the connection between deforestation and biodiversity loss is well documented within tropical rainforest ecosystems, comparatively little is known about the effects of desertification on biodiversity in dryland ecosystems. Drylands, which cover nearly half the terrestrial surface and are highly vulnerable to desertification, are among the most endangered ecosystems. To understand how biodiversity responds to environmental degradation in these fragile ecosystems, I studied arthropod diversity within a human-modified landscape suffering from deforestation and desertification in the Sahel of western Senegal. My specific objective was to determine whether arthropod, beetle, spider and ant diversity differed between protected areas of tropical dry forest and surrounding communal lands suffering from desertification. I established 12 quadrats spaced homogenously throughout each protected area as well as adjacent communal land at three different locations (Beersheba, Bandia and Ngazobil). Within each quadrat, I measured canopy closure, characterized vegetation and collected arthropods using pitfall traps during the 2014 dry (May) and rainy (September) seasons.
I collected 123,705 arthropods representing 733 morphospecies, 10,849 beetles representing 216 morphospecies, 4,969 spiders representing 91 morphospecies and 59,183 ants representing 45 morphospecies. Results showed protected areas contained greater arthropod and spider diversity than communal lands, beetle diversity varied depending on location and season, and communal lands contained greater ant diversity than protected areas (P ≤ 0.05). My results illustrate the importance of a multi-taxa approach in understanding biodiversity response to anthropogenic disturbances. Conserving arthropod diversity in the Sahel will require the creation and preservation of more protected areas of a variety of sizes and successional stages as well as the adoption and extension of land-restorative techniques such as Zai and farmer managed natural regeneration (FMNR).
|Advisor:||Muir, James P., Higgins, Christopher L.|
|Commitee:||Kattes, David H., Schwertner, Thomas W.|
|School:||Tarleton State University|
|Department:||Animal Science & Wildlife Management|
|School Location:||United States -- Texas|
|Source:||MAI 56/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Arthropod, Biodiversity, Deforestation, Desertification, Sahel, Senegal|
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