Ant Assemblage Structure in a Secondary Tropical Dry Forest: The Role of Ecological Succession and Seasonality
Keywords:Formicidae, Spatial scales, Temporal scales, β-diversity, Conservation strategies
This study identified the main biological mechanisms governing the diversity of ants on different ecological time scales. Ants were sampled in 15 plots distributed in early, intermediate and late stages of succession (five plots per stage) at the Parque Estadual da Mata Seca, Brazil. At each sample point, unbaited pitfall traps were installed in hypogaeic, epigaeic and arboreal strata. We collected 95 ant species from 26 genera and nine subfamilies. Our results indicated that there was an increase in species richness in advanced stages of succession. We also observed that ant assemblages were different among successional stages. For the arboreal and epigaeic strata, species richness did not change with succession progression, but species composition of these two strata differed among successional stages. Unlike to arboreal and epigaeic ants, hypogaiec ant species richness was higher in the intermediate and late stages of succession and the composition of hypogaeic ants differed among successional stages. Similarity between ant species foraging in arboreal and epigaeic strata decreases with succession progression and β-diversity was higher in advanced successional stages. Additionally, species richness was higher in the dry season, whereas the composition of ant assemblages did not change between seasons. A considerable fraction of the ant assemblage was found only in advanced stages of succession, demonstrating the importance of secondary habitats in maintaining biodiversity in dry forests.
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