Taxonomical vs. functional responses of bee communities to fire in two contrasting climatic regions


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  • 1Valuable insights into mechanisms of community responses to environmental change can be gained by analysing in tandem the variation in functional and taxonomic composition along environmental gradients.
  • 2We assess the changes in species and functional trait composition (i.e. dominant traits and functional diversity) of diverse bee communities in contrasting fire-driven systems in two climatic regions: Mediterranean (scrub habitats in Israel) and temperate (chestnut forests in southern Switzerland).
  • 3In both climatic regions, there were shifts in species diversity and composition related to post-fire age. In the temperate region, functional composition responded markedly to fire; however, in the Mediterranean, the taxonomic response to fire was not matched by functional replacement.
  • 4These results suggest that greater functional stability to fire in the Mediterranean is achieved by replacement of functionally similar species (i.e. functional redundancy) which dominate under different environmental conditions in the heterogeneous landscapes of the region. In contrast, the greater functional response in the temperate region was attributed to a more rapid post-fire vegetation recovery and shorter time-window when favourable habitat was available relative to the Mediterranean.
  • 5Bee traits can be used to predict the functional responses of bee communities to environmental changes in habitats of conservation importance in different regions with distinct disturbance regimes. However, predictions cannot be generalized from one climatic region to another where distinct habitat configurations occur.