Occurrence of Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in both Leaf Litter and Twigs in Atlantic Forest


  • Tae Tanaami Fernandes
  • Débora Rodrigues Souza-Campana
  • Nathalia Sampaio Silva
  • Otávio Morais Silva
  • Maria Santina de Castro Morini




Dead wood, social structure, twig-dwelling ants.


Twigs in the litter derived from the fragmentation of tree branches form one microhabitat, where entire colonies of ants, both leaf litter and arboreal species, can be found. The objective was to survey ant species that are presente in both the leaf litter and twigs simultaneously. We describe the nest type, the social structure of the colonies and the trophic guild membership of these species. Samples were collected from 10 preserved fragments of Brazilian Atlantic forest. We used Berlese funnels to collect leaf litter ants and manual collection for twig ants. We recorded 80 ant species; 60 species were in leaf litter samples and 35 species were in twigs. Of the total species, only 15 (20%) occurred simultaneously in the leaf litter and in twigs. Of these species, Gnamptogenys striatula, Pheidole sarcina, P. sospes and Solenopsis sp. 2 were the most frequent among leaf litter dwellers, and Myrmelachista catharinae was the most common arboreal species. Most of these belonged to generalista and predator guilds, with “polydomous nests” and colonies monogynous.


Download data is not yet available.


Baccaro, F.B., Feitosa, R.M., Fernandez, F. & Fernandes, I.O. (2015). Guia para os Gêneros de Formigas do Brasil. Manaus: Editora INPA, p 388.

Brandão, C.R.F., Silva, R.R. & Delabie, J.H.C. (2012). Neotropical Ants (Hymenoptera) Functional Groups: Nutritional and Applied Implications. In A.R. Panizzi & J.R.P. Parra (Eds.), Insect Bioecology and Nutrition for Integrated Pest Management (pp. 213-236). New York: CRC press.

Byrne, M.M. (1994). Ecology of Twig-Dwelling Ants in a Wet Lowland Tropical Forest. Biotropica, 26: 61-72. doi: 10.2307/2389111

Carvalho, K.S. & Vasconcelos, H.S. (2002). Comunidade de Formigas que Nidificam em Pequenos Galhos da Serrapilheira em Floresta da Amazônia Central, Brasil. Revista Brasileira de Entomologia, 46:115-121. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0085-56262002000200002

Castaño-Meneses, G., Mariano, C.F., Rocha, P., Melo, T., Tavares, B., Almeida, E., da Silva, L., Pereira, T.P.L. & Delabie, J.H. (2015). The Ant Community and their Accompanying Arthropods in Cacao Dry Pods: an Unexplored Diverse Habitat. Dugesiana, 22: 29-35. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.32870/dugesiana.v22i1.4173

Castro, G.H., Kayano, D.Y., Souza, R.F., Hilsdorf, A.W., Feitosa, R.M. & Morini, M.S. (2017). Seasonal Patterns of the Foraging Ecology of Myrmelachista arthuri Forel, 1903 (Formicidae: Formicinae). Sociobiology, 64: 237-243. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v64i3.1629

CPTEC-INPE, 2018. Accessed in 2018 April 04. Available in http://clima.cptec.inpe.br/

Davidson, D.W. & Patrell-Kim, L.J. (1996). Tropical Arboreal Ants: Why so Abundant? In A. Gibson (Ed.), Neotropical Biodiversity and Conservation (pp.127-140). Los Angeles: Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden

Debout, G., Schatz, B., Elias, M. & Mckey, D. (2007). Polydomy in Ants: What We Know, What We Think We Know, and What Remains to be Done. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society London, 90: 319-348. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8312.2007.00728.x

Decaëns, T. (2010). Macroecological Patterns in Soil Communities. Global Ecology Biogeography, 19: 287-302. doi: : 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2009.00517.x

DeHeer, C.J., Goodisman, M.A.D. & Ross, K.G. (1999). Queen Dispersal Strategies in the Multiple-Queen Form of the Fire Ant Solenopsis invicta. The American Naturalist, 153: 660-675

Delabie, J.H.C., Agosti, D. & Nascimento, I.C. (2000). Litter Ant Communities of the Brazilian Atlantic Rain Forest Region. In D. Agosti, J. Majer, L. Alonso, T. Schultz (Eds.), Sampling Ground-Dwelling Ants: Case Studies from the Word’s Rain Forests (pp 1-17). Australia, Curtin University of Technology School of Environmental Biology Bulletin 18

Delabie, J.H., Jahyny, B., do Nascimento, I.C., Mariano, C.S., Lacau, S., Campiolo, S., Stacy, A.E., Philpott, 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. Biodiversity Conservation, 16: 2359-2384. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-007-9190-6

Ellis, S., Procter, D.S., Buckham-Bonnett, P. & Robinson, E.J.H. (2017). Inferring Polydomy: a Review of Functional, Spatial and Genetic Methods for Identifying Colony Boundaries. Insectes Sociaux, 64: 19–37. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00040-016-0534-7

Fernandes, T.T., Silva, R.R., Souza, D.R., Araújo, N. & Morini, M.S.C. (2012). Undecomposed twigs in the leaf litter as nest-building resources for ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in areas of the Atlantic Forest in the Southeastern Region of Brazil. Psyche Journal Entomology, 2012: 1-8. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/896473

Fernandes, T.T., Souza-Campana, D.R., Silva, R.R. & Morini, M.S.C. (2018). Ants that Frequently Colonize Twigs in the Leaf Litter of Different Vegetation Habitats. Sociobiology, 65: 340-344. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v65i2.2742

Fernández, F. (2003). Breve Introducción a la Biologia Social de las Hormigas. In F. Fernández (Ed.), Indroducción a las Hormigas de la Región Neotropical (Pp. 81-96). Bogotá: Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt

Fowler, H.G., Forti, L.C., Brandão, C.R.F., Delabie, J.H.C. & Vasconcelos, H.L. (1991). Ecologia Nutricional de Formigas. In A.R. Panizzi, & J.A.R Parra (Eds.), Ecologia Nutricional de Insetos (pp. 131-223). São Paulo: Editora Manole

Frank, S.A. (1987). Variable Sex Ratio Among Colonies of Ants. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 20: 195-201. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00299733

Gomes, D.S., Almeida, F.S., Vargas, A.B. & Queiroz, J.M. (2013). Resposta da Assembleia de Formigas na Interface Solo-Serapilheira a um Gradiente de Alteração Ambiental. Iheringia Serie Zoologia, 103: 104-109

Hamidi, R., Biseau, J.C., Bourguignon, T., Martins Segundo, G.B., Bezerril, T.M. & Quinet, Y. (2017). Dispersal Strategies in the Highly Polygynous ant Crematogaster (Orthocrema) pygmaea Forel (Formicidae: Myrmicinae). PLoS ONE, 12: e0178813. doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0178813

Hashimoto, Y., Morimoto, Y., Widodo, E.S. & Mohamed, M. (2006). Vertical Distribution Pattern of Ants in a Bornean Tropical Rainforest. Sociobiology, 47: 697-710

Hölldobler, B. & Wilson, E.O. (1990). The Ants. Cambridge: Belknap Press, p 733

Jahyny, B., Lacau, S., Delabie, J.H.C. & Fresneau, D. (2007). Le genre Thaumatomyrmex Mayr 1887, Cryptique et Prédateur Spécialiste de Diplopoda Penicillata. In E. Jiménez, F. Fernández, T.M. Arias & F.H. Lozano-Zambrano (Eds.), Sistemática, biogeografía y Conservación de las Hormigas Cazadoras de Colombia (pp. 329-346). Bogotá: Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt

Kaspari, M. (1996). Litter Ant Patchiness at the 1-M2 Scale: Disturbance Dynamics in Three Neotropical Forests. Oecologia, 107: 265-273. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00327911

King, J.R., Warren II, R.J. & Bradford, M.A. (2013). Social Insects Dominate Eastern US Temperate Hardwood Forest Macro Invertebrate Communities in Warmer Regions. PLoS ONE, 8: e75843. doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0075843

King, J.R., Warren II, R.J., Maynard, D.S. & Bradford, M.A. (2018). Ants: Ecology and Impacts in Dead Wood. In M.D. Ulyshen (Ed.), Saproxylic Insects: Diversity, Ecology and Conservation (pp 237-262). United States: Springer

Lanan, M. (2014). Spatiotemporal Resource Distribution and Foraging Strategies of Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News, 20: 53-70

Leponce, M., Roisin, Y., Pasteels, J. (1999). Community Interactions Between Ants and Arboreal-Nesting Termites in New Guinea Cocoa Nut Plantations. Insectes Sociaux, 46: 126-130. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s000400050122

Martins Segundo, G.B., Biseau, J.C., Feitosa, R.M., Carlos, J.E., Sá, L.R., Fontenelle, M.T.M.B. & Quinet, Y. (2017). Crematogaster abstinens and Crematogaster pygmaea (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae): From Monogyny and Monodomy to Polygyny and Polydomy. Myrmecological News, 25: 67-81

McGlynn, T.P. & Owen, J.P. (2002). Food Supplementation Alters Caste Allocation in a Natural Population of Pheidole flavens, a Dimorphic Leaf-Litter Dwelling Ant. Insectes Sociaux, 49: 8-14. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00040-002-8270-6

Morais, J.W., Oliveira, V.S., Dambros, S.C., Tapia-Coral, C.S. & Acioli, A.N.S. (2010). Mesofauna do Solo em Diferentes Sistemas de Uso da Terra No Alto Rio Solimões. Neotropical Entomolgy, 39: 145-152

Nakano, M.A., Feitosa, R.M., Moraes, C.O., Adriano, L.D.C., Hengles, E.P., Longui, L.E. & Morini, M.S.C. (2012). Assembly of Myrmelachista Roger (Formicidae: Formicinae) in Twigs Fallen on the Leaf Litter of Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Journal of Natural History, 46: 2103-2115. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/00222933.2012.707247

Nakano, M.A., Miranda, V.F.O., Souza, D.R., Feitosa, R.M. & Morini, M.S.C. (2013), Occurrence and Natural history of Myrmelachista Roger (Formicidae: Formicinae) in the Atlantic Forest of Southeastern Brazil. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural, 86:169-179. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0716-078X2013000200006

Ogogol, R., Egonyu, J.P., Bwogi, G., Kyamanywa, S. & Erbaugh, M. (2017). Interaction of the Predatory Ant Pheidole megacephala (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) with the Polyphagus Pest Xylosandrus compactus (Coleoptera: Curculionidea). Biological Control, 104: 66-70. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2016.11.002

Pacheco, R., Silva, R.R., Morini, M.S.C., Brandão, C.R. (2009). A Comparison of the Leaf-Litter Ant Fauna in a Secondary Atlantic Forest with an Adjacent Pine Plantation in Southeastern Brazil. Neotropical Entomology, 38: 55-65. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1519-566X2009000100005

Robinson, E.J.H. (2014). Polydomy: the Organization and Adaptive Function of Complex Nest Systems in Ants. Current Opinion in Insect Science, 5: 37-43. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cois.2014.09.002

Santos, J.C. & Del-Claro, K. (2009). Ecology and Behavior of the Weaver Ant Camponotus (Myrmobrachys) senex. Journal of Natural History, 43: 1423-1435. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/00222930902903236

Sagata, K., Mack, A.L., Wright, D.D. & Lester, P.J. (2010). The Influence of Nest Availability on the Abundance and Diversity of Twig-Dwelling Ants in a Papua New Guinea Forest. Insectes Sociaux, 57: 333–341. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00040-010-0088-z

Silva, F.R., Begnini, R.M., Klier, V.A., Scherer, K.Z., Lopes, B.C. & Castellani, T.T. (2009) Utilização de Sementes de Syagrus romanzoffiana (Arecaceae) por Formigas em Floresta Secundária no Sul do Brasil. Neotropical Entomology, 38: 873-875

Silva, R.R., Brandão, C.R.F. (2010). Morphological Patterns and Community Organization in Leaf-Litter Assemblages. Ecological Monographys, 80: 107-124

Silva, N.S., Saad, L.P., Souza-Campana, D.R., Bueno, O.C. & Morini, M.S.C. (2017). Comparison Between Ground Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Communities Foraging in the Straw Mulch of Sugarcane Crops and in the Leaf Litter of Neighboring Forests. Journal of Economic Entomology, 110: 111-117. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/jee/tow295

Silvestre R, Brandão, CRF, Silva RS (2003) Grupos Funcionales de Hormigas: el Caso de los Gremios del Cerrado. In F Fernández (Ed.) Introductión a las Hormigas de la Región Neotropical (pp 113-148. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander Von Humboldt, Bogotá

Souza, D.R., Fernandes, T.T., Nascimento, J.R.O., Suguituru, S.S. & Morini, M.S.C. (2012). Characterization of Ant Communities (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Twigs in the Leaf Litter of the Atlantic Rainforest and Eucalyptus Trees in the Southeast Region of Brazil. Psyche: Journal of Entomology, 2012: 1-8. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/532768

Souza-Campana, D.R., Silva, R.R., Fernandes, T.T., Silva, O.G.M., Saad, L.P. & Morini, M.S.C. (2017). Twigs in the Leaf Litter as ant Habitats in Different Vegetation Habitats in Southeastern Brazil. Tropical Conservation Science, 10: 1-12. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1940082917710617

Stroeymeyt, N., Joye, P. & Keller, L. (2017). Polydomy Enhances Foraging Performance in Ant Colonies. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological science, 284: 20170269. doi: https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.0269

Suguituru, S.S., Silva, R.R., Souza, D.R., Munhae, C.D.B. & Morini, M.S.C. (2011). Ant Community Richness and Composition Across a Gradient From Eucalyptus Plantations to Secondary Atlantic Forest. Biota Neotropica, 11: 369-376. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1676-06032011000100034

Suguituru, S.S., Souza, D.R., Munhae, C.D.B., Pacheco, R. & Morini, M.S.C. (2013). Diversidade e Riqueza de Formigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) em Remanescentes de Mata Atlântica na Bacia Hidrográfica do Alto Tietê, SP. Biota Neotropica, 13: 141-152

Suguituru, S.S., Morini, M.S.C., Feitosa, R.M., Silva, R.R. (2015). Formigas do Alto Tietê. Bauru: Canal 6, 456 p

Ward, P.S. (2000). Broad – Scale Patterns of Diversity Leaf Litter ant communites. In D. Agosti, J. D. Majer, L.E. Alonso & T.R. Schultz (Eds.), Ants Standard Methods for Measuring and Monitoring Biodiversity (pp 99-121). Washington: Smithsonian Institution

Wilson, E.O. & Hölldobler, B. (2005). Eusociality: Origin and Consequences. Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences, 102: 13367-13371. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0505858102

Yanoviak, S.P. & Kaspari, M. (2000). Community Structure and the Habitat Templet: Ants in the Tropical Forest Canopy and Litter. Oikos, 89: 259-266. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1034/j.1600-0706.2000.890206.x




How to Cite

Fernandes, T. T., Souza-Campana, D. R., Silva, N. S., Silva, O. M., & Morini, M. S. de C. (2020). Occurrence of Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in both Leaf Litter and Twigs in Atlantic Forest. Sociobiology, 67(2), 163–172. https://doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v67i2.4504



Research Article - Ants

Most read articles by the same author(s)