Arboreal Ant Assemblages Respond Differently to Food Source and Vegetation Physiognomies: a Study in the Brazilian Atlantic Rain Forest


  • Janete Jane Resende Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana
  • Paulo Enrique Cardoso Peixoto Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana
  • Evandro Nascimento Silva Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana
  • Jacques Hubert Charles Delabie CEPEC-CEPLAC
  • Gilberto M. M. Santos Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana



preference, resource preference, matrix quality, Formicidae, Community Ecology


This study aimed to analyze assemblages of arboreal ants in different vegetation physiognomies within the Tropical Moist Forest (Atlantic Rain Forest) domain. The study was carried out at the Michelin Ecological Reserve, State of Bahia, Northeast of Brazil. We used sardine (protein resource) and honey (carbohydrate resource) baits to collect ants foraging in three vegetation types: (1) preserved native forest, (2) forest in regeneration (capoeira) with many invasive plants and (3) a mixed agroystem of rubber and cocoa tree plantation. We recorded 69 ant species attracted to the baits, 21 of them exclusive to honey bait and 25 exclusive to the sardine baits. The vegetation physiognomies preserved forest and rubber/cacao agrosystem showed higher species richness in relation to the forest in regeneration (capoeira), suggesting that rubber tree plantations can be a good matrix for the maintenance of some ant species typical of the forest matrix. The type of resource used is important for the structuring of the arboreal ant assemblages. The ants that were attracted to protein resources showed a guild composition that is more differentiated between vegetation types that of ants attracted to glucose resources.

Author Biography

Gilberto M. M. Santos, Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana

Dr. Gilberto Marcos de Mendonça Santos was educated at the Universidade Federal da Bahia, Brazil, and PhD degrees at the Universidade de São Paulo (Ribeirão Preto, Brazil), the latter under the direction of Professor Nivar Gobbi, one of the leading world experts on social biology of wasps.  Presently, Dr. Santos is professor of Ecology and Advanced Studies of ecology at Feira de Santana State University. During his teaching career he taught General Entomology, Biogeography  and Social Insects´s Biology. Dr. Gilberto M M Santos is Associated Editor of journal Sociobiology and Adjunt Editor of Journal Magistra. How do ecosystems work, and why is biodiversity important for ecosystem functioning? These are the core questions behind of Dr. Santos´s research. Currently the studies of Dr. Gilberto M M Santos show special interest in complex systems and their use for understanding biological networks (bee-plants foodweba, bee-parasit network and biological invasions). Since 2010 is the Coordinator of the postgraduate course in zoology from Feira de Santana State University


Andersen, A.N. & Majer, J.D. (2004). Ants show the way Down Under: invertebrates as bioindicators in land management. Front. Ecol. Environ., 2: 291-298.

Andersen, A.N. (1995). A Classification of Australian Ant Communities, Based on Functional Groups Which Parallel Plant life-forms in relation to stress and disturbance. J. Biogeog., 22:15-29.

Anderson, T., Elser, J. J. & Hessen, D. O. (2004). Stoichiometry and population dynamics. Ecol. Lett., 7: 884–900. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2004.00646.x

Armbrecht, I., Perfecto, I.& Vandermeer, J. (2004). Enigmatic Biodiversity: Ant Diversity Responds to Diverse Resources. Science 304:284-286.

Baroni-Urbani, C. & De Andrade, M.L. (2007). The ant tribe Dacetine: limits and constituent genera, with descriptions of new species. Ann. Mus. Civ. Stor. Nat. Giacomo Doria, 99:1-191.

Bestelmeyer, B.T., Agosti, D., Leeanne, F., Alonso, T., Brandão, C.R.F., Brown, W.L., Delabie, J.H.C., & Silvestre, R. (2000). Field techniques for the study of ground-living ants: An Overview, description, and evaluation. In: D. Agosti, J.D. Majer, A. Tennant & T. de Schultz (eds), Ants: standart methods for measuring an monitoring biodiversity. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington 122-144.

Bihn, J.H., Verhaagh, M., Brand, R. (2008). Ecological stoichiometry along a gradient of forest succession: Bait preferences of litter ants. Biotropica, 40: 597-599.

Bolton, B. (2003). Synopsis and classification of Formicidae. The American Entomological Institute. Gainesville 370p.

Brandão, C.R.F., Silva, R.R. & Delabie, J.H.C. (2009). Formigas (Hymenoptera), pp. 323–369. In: A.R.Panizzi & J.R.P. Parra (eds). Bioecologia e Nutrição de Insetos. Base para o Manejo Integrado de Pragas. Brasília, Embrapa Informação Tecnológica, 1263p.

Byk, J. & Del-Claro, K. (2011). Ant-plant interaction in the Neotropical savanna: direct beneficial effects of extrafloral nectar on ant colony fitness. Popul. Ecol., 53(2): 327-332.

Chazdon, R.L., Colwell, R.K., Denslow, J.S. & Guarigurata, M.R. (1998). Statistical methods for estimating species richness of woody regeneration in primary and secondary rain forests of northeastern Costa Rica. In Forest biodiversity research, monitoring and modelling. (F. Dallmeier & J. A. Comiskey, eds). MAB - Man and Biosphere Series, UNESCO, Paris 285-309.

Colwell, R. K. (2006). EstimateS: Statistical estimation of species richness and shared species from samples, version 8.0. Disponível em:

Colwell, R. K., Mao, C.X. & Chang, J. (2004). Interpolating, extrapolating, and comparing incidence-based species accumulation curves. Ecology 85:2717-2727.

Davidson D.W. (1998) Resource discovery versus resource domination in ants: a functional mechanism for breaking the trade-off. Ecol. Entomol., 23:484–490

De Marco P. & Coelho, F.M. (2004). Services performed by the ecosystem: Forest remnants influence agricultural cultures’ pollination and production. Biodiv. Conserv., 13: 1245-1255.

Delabie, J.H.C. (1993). Formigas exóticas na Bahia. Bahia, Análise Dados. 3:19-22.

Delabie, J.H.C. (2001). Trophobiosis between Formicidae and Hemiptera (Sternorrhyncha and Auchenorrhyncha): an overview. Neotrop. Entomol., 30(4): 501-516.

Delabie, J.H.C., Jahyny, B., Nascimento, I.C., Mariano, C., Lacau, S., Campiolo, S., Philpott, S.M. & Leponce, M. (2007). Contribution of cocoa plantations to the conservation of native ants (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicidae) with a special emphasis on the Atlantic Forest fauna of southern Bahia, Brazil. Biodiv. Conserv., 16: 2359-2384.

Delabie, J.H.C., Fisher, B.L., Majer, J.D. & Wright, I.W. (2000). Sampling Effort and Choice of Methods. In: D. Agosti; Majer, J.D.; Tennant, A.; Schultz, T.R. (Eds). Ants: standard methods for measuring and monitoring biodiversity. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC., USA 145-154.

Delabie, J.H.C., Paim, V.R.L., Nascimento, I.C., Campiolo, S. & Mariano, C.S.F. (2006). As Formigas como Indicadores Biológicos do Impacto Humano em Manguezais da Costa Sudeste da Bahia. Neotrop. Entomol., 35(5):602-615.

Dunn, R.R., Agosti, D., Andersen, A.N., Arnan, X., Bruhl, C.A., Cerdá, X., Ellison, A.M., Fisher, B.L., Fitzpatrick, M.C., Gibb, H., Gotelli, N.J., Gove, A.D., Guenard, B., Janda, M., Kaspari, M., Laurent, E.J., Lessard, J.P., Longino, J.T., Majer, J.D., Menke, S.B., McGlynn, T.P., Parr, C.L., Philpott, S.M., Pfeiffer, M., Retana, J., Suarez, A.V., Vasconcelos, H.L., Weiser, M.D. & Sanders, N.J. (2009). Climatic drivers of hemispheric asymmetry in global patterns of ant species richness. Ecol. Lett., 12: 324-33.

Floren, A., Biun, A.& Linsenmair, K.E. (2002). Arboreal ants as key predators in tropical lowland forest trees. Oecologia, 131: 137-144

Freitas, A.V.L, Francini, R.B. & Brown, K.S. (2004). Insetos como indicadores ambientais. Pp. 125-151. In: Cullen Jr., L.; Rudran, R. & Valladares-Padua, C. (Org.). Métodos de estudos em biologia da conservação e manejo da vida silvestre. Editora UFPR, Curitiba. 665p.

Gomes, J. P., Iannuzzi, L. & Leal, I.R. (2010). Resposta da comunidade de formigas aos atributos dos fragmentos e da vegetação em uma paisagem da Floresta Atlântica nordestina. Neotrop. Entomol., 39(6):898-905

Greenslade, P.J.M. & Greenslade, P. (1977). Some effects of vegetation cover and disturbance on a tropical ant fauna. Insectes Soc., 24: 163-182.

Grover, C.D., Kay, A.D., Monson, J.A., Marsh, T.C., Holway, D.A. (2007). Linking nutrition and behavioural dominance: carbohydrate scarcity limits aggression and activity in Argentine ants. Proc. R. Soc. B, 274: 2951–2957. doi:10.1098/rspb.2007.1065

Hashimoto Y., Morimoto Y., Widodo, E.S., Maryati Mohamed & Fellowes, J.R. (2010). Vertical habitat use and foraging activities of arboreal and ground ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in a Bornean tropical rainforest. Sociobiology, 56(2): 1-14.

Heltshe, J. & Forrester, N.E. (1983). Estimating species richness using the jackknife procedure. Biometrics, 39: 1-11.

Hölldobler, B. & Wilson, E.O. (1990). The ants. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 732p.

Lapolla, J., Brady, S.G. & Shattuck, S.O. (2010). Phylogeny and taxonomy of the Prenolepis genus-group of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). System. Entomol., 35: 118-131.

Lassau, S.A. & Hochuli, D.F. (2004). Effects of habitat complexity on ant assemblages. Ecography, 27: 157-164.

Levings, S.C. (1983). Seasonal, annual, and among-site variation in the ground ant community of a deciduous tropical forest: some causes of patchy species distributions. Ecol. Monogr., 53: 435-455.

Longino, J.T. 2000. Que fazer com os dados. p.186 - 203. In: Agosti, D.; Majer, J. D.; Alonso, L. E. & Schultz, T. R. (Eds.) Formigas: Métodos padrão para medição e monitoramento da biodiversidade. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC 280.pp

Lopes, J.F.S., Hallack, N.M. dos R., Sales, T.A. de, Brugger, M.S., Ribeiro, L.F., Hastenreiter, I.N. & Camargo, R. da S. (2012). Comparison of the Ant Assemblages in Three Phytophysionomies: Rocky Field, Secondary Forest, and Riparian Forest—A Case Study in the State Park of Ibitipoca, Brazil, Psyche, vol. 2012, Article ID 928371, 7 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/928371

Majer, J. D. & Delabie, J.H.C. (1993). An evaluation of Brazilian cocoa farm ants as potential biological control agents, J. Plant Prot. in the Tropics, 10(1): 43-49.

Majer, J. D., Delabie, J.H.C. & Smith, M.R.B. (1994). Arboreal ant community patterns in brazilian cocoa farms, Biotropica, 26(1):73-83.

Majer, J.D. (1996). Ant recolonization of rehabilitated bauxite mines at Trombetas, Pará, Brazil. J. Appl. Ecol., 12: 257-273

Matos, J. Z., Yamanaka, C.N., Castellani, T.T. & Lopes, B.C. (1994). Comparação da fauna de formigas de solo em áreas de plantio de Pinus elliottii, com diferentes graus de complexidade estrutural (Florianópolis, SC). Biotemas, 7(1-2): 57-64.

Pereira, M.P.S., Queiroz, J.M., Souza, G.O. & Mayhé-Nunes, A.J. (2007). Influência da heterogeneidade da serapilheira sobre as formigas que nidificam em galhos mortos em floresta nativa e plantio de eucalipto. Neotrop. Biol. Conserv. 2(3): 161-164.

Pereira, M.P.S., Queiroz, J.M., Valcarcel, R. & Nunes, A.J.M. (2005). Fauna de formigas no biomonitoramento de ambientes de área de empréstimo em reabilitação na ilha da madeira, RJ. In: Simpósio Nacional e Congresso 3 Latino-Americano de Recuperação de Áreas Degradadas. Curitiba. Anais Sobrade, 6: 5-12.

Perfecto, I., Vandermeer, J., Hanson, P.& Cartin, V. (1997). Arthropod biodiversity loss and the transformation of a tropical agro-ecosystem. Biodiv. Conserv., 6: 935-945.

Philpott, S. M., Perfecto, I. & Vandermeer, J. (2006). Effects of management intensity and season on arboreal ant diversity and abundance in coffee agroecosystems. Biodiv. Conserv. 15: 139–155.

Resende, J.J., Santos, G.M.M., Nascimento, I.C., Delabie, J.H.C. & Silva, E.M. (2011). Communities of Ants (Hymenoptera – Formicidae) in Different Atlantic Rain Forest Phytophysionomies. Sociobiology, 58:779-799.

Romero, H. & Jaffé, K. (1989). A comparison of methods for sampling ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) in savannas. Biotropica, 21: 348-325.

Schoener, T.W. (1971). Theory of feeding strategies, Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst., 2: 369-404.

Sobrinho T.G. & Schoereder, J.H. (2006). Edge and shape effects on ant (Hymenoptera:Formicidae) species richness and composition in forest fragments. Biodiv. Conserv. 16: 1459-1470.

Sterner, R.W. & Elser, J.J. (2002). Ecological stoichiometry. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 584pp.

Thomas, C. D. (2000). Dispersal and extinction in fragmented landscapes. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. 267: 139-145.

Wilson, E. O. (1976). Which are the most prevalent ant genera? Studia Ent., 9: 1-4.




How to Cite

Resende, J. J., Peixoto, P. E. C., Silva, E. N., Delabie, J. H. C., & Santos, G. M. M. (2013). Arboreal Ant Assemblages Respond Differently to Food Source and Vegetation Physiognomies: a Study in the Brazilian Atlantic Rain Forest. Sociobiology, 60(2), 174–182.



Research Article - Ants

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 > >>