How does landscape anthropization affect the myrmecofauna of urban forest fragments?
Keywords:Urbanization, Ants, Planning, Green areas, Riparian forest, Conservation.
We evaluate whether landscape variables surrounding urban remnant forest fragments influence ant diversity and its components in urban areas. The study was conducted in six riparian forest fragments in midwestern Minas Gerais State, Brazil, by sampling epigaeic and arboreal ants. Arboreal ants respond to fragmente isolation with changes in alpha, beta and gamma diversities. Isolation likely hinders dispersion and re-colonization such that the more isolated a fragment is, the less likely that new species arrive there. On other hand, epigaeic diversity did not show any response to variables of the surroundings or fragments, probably because natural periodic floods constitute a more severe disturbance for these ants. In addition, throughout the process of urbanization, anthropogenic improvements, such as paving, that prevent the natural percolation of water, increase the flooding of riparian soil. Arboreal ant species composition responds to percentage of urban area, fragment area and distance from the urban center, while epigaeic ants respond only to fragment area and percentage of urban area. We believe that even with the loss of species diversity and anthropogenic influences on fragments within urban centers, these areas are still important for species conservation. We also suggest the development of environmental protection projects for riparian áreas within urban centers, including investments in ecological corridors connecting fragments and public policies seeking to preserve these areas.
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