Density and Spatial Distribution of Nests of Ectatomma ruidum and Pheidole fallax (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), as Response to the Recovery of Coal Mine Areas
Keywords:mine reclamation, ants, spatial distribution, renewal nest index, Morisita index, nearest-neighbor index
In this study, the spatial pattern of two ant species of different feeding habits, Ectatomma ruidum and Pheidole fallax (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) was assessed in rehabilitated areas of “Cerrejón” coal mine (Colombia). We tested whether there is a relationship between spatial distribution pattern, age rehabilitation and temporal changes. Three sites with different ages of rehabilitation (1, 9 and 20 years) and a secondary forest were sampled during dry and rainy seasons. Within four plots (6 x 40m) per site, we located, counted and estimated the minimum distance among nests. Our results indicated that the number of active nests varied according to sites and sampling season, E. ruidum had the highest density at both seasons, 166 nests ha-1 (forest) and 1333 nests ha-1 (9-y site). The nest density for P. fallax ranged between 125 and 625 nests ha-1 in the forest and the 20-y site, respectively, and at 1-year site ants were absent. Our results indicated that the nest distribution strongly depended on the scale of observation. A uniform distribution pattern was also found, mainly at the local scale (plot level), while an aggregated and random distribution was found at the site level. We conclude that ant density responded mostly to seasonal changes (dry versus wet season).
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