Composition and Richness of Arboreal ants in Fragments of Brazilian Caatinga: Effects of Secondary Succession

Leandro Sousa-Souto, Priscilla Figueiredo, Bianca Ambrogi, Anny Oliveira, Genésio Tamara Ribeiro, Frederico Neves

Abstract


Ecological succession is a complex processes involving changes in the structure of plant community and it is an important factor determining the structure of arboreal ants assemblages, but little is known about the effects of succession on ant assemblages in regions of Tropical Dry Forests (TDFs), such as the Brazilian Caatinga. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of ecological succession on the richness and species composition of arboreal ants in fragments of Caatinga, testing the following hypothesis: i) the richness of arboreal ants increases along a gradient of forest succession, in response to tree richness and/or density; ii) species composition of arboreal ants differs among stages of forest succession due to differences in vegetation structure in theses stages. This study was conducted in 15 plots distributed in three areas with different stages of secondary succession (early, intermediate and late). Tree density and richness were used as surrogate of vegetation structure. Ants were sampled using the technique of beating the foliage and baited pitfall traps, where five trees were sampled per plot, totaling 75 individual trees sampled. We sampled 37 species of ants, distributed in 16 genera and five subfamilies. Ant richness differed among stages of succession and seasons, with higher number of species in the late succession and rainy period, also increasing with tree richness and density. Besides, there was a distinct composition of ant species among stages of succession and seasons. Results obtained in this study reinforce the importance of using ants as environmental bioindicators, since the sensitivity to environmental variations of this group enables us to differentiate early and late successional stages of forest succession in Caatinga environment.


Keywords


Tropical dry forest; habitat structure; bioindicators; ant diversity

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v63i2.909

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