Authors:
E. Német Babeș-Bolyai University, Clinicilor 5-7, 400006 Cluj-Napoca, Romania

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E. Ruprecht Babeș-Bolyai University, Clinicilor 5-7, 400006 Cluj-Napoca, Romania

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R. Gallé University of Szeged, P.O. Box 51, 6701 Szeged, Hungary

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B. Markó Babeș-Bolyai University, Clinicilor 5-7, 400006 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
University of Szeged, P.O. Box 51, 6701 Szeged, Hungary

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Significant proportion of crop lands have been abandoned as management strategies have changed in Central and Eastern Europe in the past decades. The study of insect versus plant communities in such areas could help us understand how these processes take place, and whether these communities return to a semi-natural state maintained by human activities. Amongst insects ants, as ecosystem engineers, are a perfect target group in this respect. We studied epigaeic ant and plant communities of abandoned old-fields in Romania. Contrary to our expectations, the total number of ant species did not increase with time during succession on old-fields contrary to plants, where an increase was registered in the total number. Disturbancetolerant ant species dominated the ant communities throughout the successional gradient, while in the case of plants a transition was found from weed-dominated to semi-natural communities. The diversity of both ant and plant communities increased after the 1-year stage, but the patterns were different. While a return to semi-natural state could be observed in plants during old-field succession, such a definite change did not occur in ants. This might be caused by the landscape context: the lack of connectivity of old-fields to larger natural areas. While plant propagules of semi-natural and natural habitat species can still successfully colonize the old fields even under such conditions, ant colonizers are mainly disturbance-tolerant species typical for agricultural areas, which can be hardly replaced by typical grassland species. Our findings underline the existence of important discrepancies between plant and ant community succession, mostly treated as paralleling each other. This is the first study to handle the effect of abandonment on ant and plant communities simultaneously in Eastern Europe.

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Community Ecology
Language English
Size A4
Year of
Foundation
2000
Volumes
per Year
1
Issues
per Year
3
Founder Akadémiai Kiadó
Founder's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
Springer Nature Switzerland AG
Publisher's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
CH-6330 Cham, Switzerland Gewerbestrasse 11.
Responsible
Publisher
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 1585-8553 (Print)
ISSN 1588-2756 (Online)