Ant Diversity Studies 2018

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The number of contemporary publications that focus on ant communities and ant biodiversity shows that these topics continue to be strong areas of interest. This page lists 2018 publications that focus on these topics.

Ant Diversity Studies 2017

A - L (by first author)

  • Achury, R. and A. V. Suarez. 2018. Richness and Composition of Ground-dwelling Ants in Tropical Rainforest and Surrounding Landscapes in the Colombian Inter-Andean Valley. Neotropical Entomology. 47:731-741. doi:10.1007/s13744-017-0565-4

Abstract Tropical rainforests are characterized by having high structural complexity, stratification, and species diversity. In Colombia, tropical rainforests are critically endangered with only 24% of their area remaining. Forest fragments are often valued based on the presence of vertebrate taxa despite that small habitat remnants may still harbor diverse invertebrate communities. We surveyed the ant fauna associated with rainforest fragments and their surrounding landscape elements (including mature forests, flooded forests, gallery forests, live fences, and pastures) in the Magdalena River watershed. Pitfall traps and litter samples were used to estimate ant richness and diversity, and to compare ant composition among landscape elements. We found 135 species from 42 genera, representing 16% of the species and 43% of the genera known for Colombia. Our surveys also uncovered 11 new ant records for the Colombian inter-Andean region and 2 new records for the country of Colombia: Mycocepurus curvispinosus (Mackay) and Rhopalothrix isthmica (Weber). The highest species richness was found in forest-covered sites, and richness and diversity was lower in the disturbed landscapes surrounding the forest patches. Species composition varied significantly between all habitat types, but was most similar between forest types suggesting that a loss of structural complexity has the greatest effect on ant communities. Across our study sites, ten species showed the greatest response to habitat type and could qualify as indicator taxa for this region. We conclude by discussing the value of conserving even small forests in this landscape due to their ability to retain high diversity of ants.


  • Castro, D., F. Fernandez, A. D. Meneses, M. C. Tocora, S. Sanchez, and C. P. Pena-Venegas. 2018. A preliminary checklist of soil ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Colombian Amazon. Biodiversity Data Journal. 6:23. doi:10.3897/BDJ.6.e29278

Abstract This paper presents an updated list of soil ants of the Colombian Amazon collected in three different river basins: the Amazon, the Caquetá and the Putumayo. The list includes 10 subfamilies, 60 genera and 218 species collected from TSBF monoliths at four different depths (Litter, 0 - 10 cm, 10 - 20 cm and 20 - 30 cm). This updated list increases considerably the knowledge of edaphic macrofauna of the region, due to the limited published information about soil ant diversity in the Colombian Amazon region.

This is the first checklist of soil ant diversity of the Colombian Amazon region. Six new records of species for Colombia are exposed: Acropyga tricuspis, Typhlomyrmex clavicornis, Typhlomyrmex meire, Cyphomyrmex bicornis, Megalomyrmex emeryi and Myrmicocrypta spinosa, most of them corresponding to subterranean ants.


  • Catarineu, C., G. G. Barbera, and J. L. Reyes-Lopez. 2018. Zoogeography of the Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the Segura River Basin. Sociobiology. 65:383-396. doi:10.13102/sociobiology.v65i3.2822

Abstract The work submitted in this paper presents the first checklist of the ant species of the Segura River Basin based on a review of specific literature and biological material collected during field work conducted from 2012 to 2016. Our findings recorded 110 species that belong to 30 genera of ants and twenty-two of these species have been recorded for the first time in this area. The zoogeographical composition is dominated by the species of the Mediterranean zone (75.2%), followed by the mixed and deciduous forest zone (19.1%). The most important zoogeographic elements are: Iberian (20%), Holomediterranean (17.1%) and West-Mediterranean (13.3%). There are only six cosmopolitan species (5.71%). There is a greater proportion of species from the mixed and deciduous forest zone in the high-mid altitudes in the Segura River Basin, where the climate is cooler, and more humid. The Euro-Caucasian and Euro-West Siberian elements tend to be more associated to forest with a higher precipitation, whilst the South Palearctic elements seem to be more associated to ecosystems more similar to the forest-steppe zone with intermediate precipitation. The existence of these different zoogeographic origins in this area is probably linked with: the position between Africa and Europe; the complex geotectonic, paleogeographic, and paleoclimatic history during the last 7 My; the complex geomorphology; and the high climate and habitat diversity. Based on ant studies and other taxa, possible explanations of the zoogeographic origin of these ant chorotypes are proposed.


  • Corley, J. C., R. D. Dimarco, D. Fischbein, M. V. Lantschner, A. S. Martinez, M. Masciocchi, A. Mattiacci, J. Paritsis, and J. M. Villacide. 2018. A synthesis on the impact of non-native conifer plantations on ant and beetle diversity in north-western Patagonia. Southern Forests. 80:285-291. doi:10.2989/20702620.2018.1432536

Abstract Softwood forestry with non-native tree species is increasing worldwide and especially in many developing countries of the Southern Hemisphere. Tree plantations are beneficial in environmental and socioeconomic aspects, but at the same time there are recognised costs associated with afforestation. Our aim was to revise the existing information on the impact of exotic conifer plantations in north-western Patagonia on insect biodiversity. A total of five studies were selected and, in these, not every insect group responded in a similar manner to the habitat replacement. There was a tendency towards a reduction in abundance and species richness of several insects inside pine plantations. This change in abundance and richness was especially evident for ant assemblages and when pine plantations were dense. Beetle assemblages, in turn, showed diverse responses to the replacement of native vegetation with forests depending on the native habitat matrix. Our findings confirm that practices that reduce tree density (via thinning or during plantation) should be recommended to minimise their impact on insect biodiversity in north-western Patagonia. The consistent behaviour of ant assemblages, coupled with their abundance, ease to sample and unambiguous taxonomy make them reliable candidates for long-term monitoring of the impact conifer forestation in north-western Patagonia, as well as probably in other regions of the world in which non-native pines replace natural environments.


  • Dambros, J., V. F. Vindica, J. H. C. Delabie, M. I. Marques, and L. D. Battirola. 2018. Canopy Ant Assemblage (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Two Vegetation Formations in the Northern Brazilian Pantanal. Sociobiology. 65:358-369. doi:10.13102/sociobiology.v65i3.1932

Abstract The landscape of the northern Pantanal region is a mosaic of fields and forests, distributed according to topography and hydrology of this floodplain, resulting in a particular pattern of vegetation distribution. Among the forest formations, mixed-species and monodominant landscape units can be found which are associated with floodable or non-floodable habitats. Our study tested the hypothesis that forest formations with greater tree richness and which are non-floodable (cordilheiras) maintain distinct richness and composition in canopy ant assemblages in relation to the seasonally floodable monodominant forests (cambarazais). Sampling was performed in 10 sample areas (five cambarazais and five cordilheiras) by means of canopy insecticide fogging during the dry and high water seasons of the Pantanal's hydrological cycle. The canopy ant assemblages revealed 105 species belonging to 30 genera and nine subfamilies. Myrmicinae (41 spp.), Formicinae (20 spp.) and Pseudomyrmecinae (17 spp.) predominated. Our results revealed that the composition of canopy ant assemblages varied between cambarazal and cordilheira forests, as well as between the dry and high water periods. Nevertheless, the richness was homogeneous between these forests and in the dry and high water periods. These results show the specificity of each forest, as well as its structure, in maintaining distinct compositions in ant assemblages in canopies in the Pantanal of Mato Grosso.


  • de Assis, V. C. B., P. G. Chagas, C. G. S. Marinho, M. A. M. Fadini, J. H. C. Delabie, and S. M. Mendes. 2018. Transgenic Bt maize does not affect the soil ant community. Pesquisa Agropecuaria Brasileira. 53:152-162. doi:10.1590/s0100-204x2018000200003

Abstract The objective of this work was to survey soil ants in Bt and non-Bt maize (Zea mays) crops, and to compare their effect on the soil ant community. Nine pitfall traps, 10 m apart, were installed in a central area (900 m2) of each of the following treatments (2,500 m2): conventional maize; maize modified with the Cry1F, Cry1Ab, and Vip3A proteins; and a native vegetation area. Fortnightly collections were conducted during four periods (complete producing cycles) of the crop, from 2011 to 2013. The number of ant species varied from 25 in Bt maize (Vip 3A) to 58 in Bt maize (Cry 1F). The treatment with conventional maize showed the highest Shannon-Wiener diversity index (H’ = 2.60). Jaccard’s index showed that there is dissimilarity between the cultivated maize areas and the native vegetation area in most treatments, and that Bt and non-Bt maize show similarity in their soil ant assemblages. The cultivation of Bt maize does not affect the soil ant community. The subfamily Myrmicinae shows the highest number of species in all the collection periods, with 57, 41, 47, and 50 species in the first, second, third, and fourth periods, respectively. The genus Pheidole, belonging to this subfamily, shows the greatest number of species.


  • Dejean, A., J. Orivel, M. Leponce, A. Compin, J. H. C. Delabie, F. Azemar, and B. Corbara. 2018. Ant-plant relationships in the canopy of an Amazonian rainforest: the presence of an ant mosaic. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 125:344-354. doi:10.1093/biolinnean/bly125

Abstract Using different techniques to access the canopy of an Amazonian rainforest, we inspected 157 tree crowns for arboreal ants. Diversity statistics showed that our study sample was not representative of the tree and ant populations due to their high diversity in Amazonian rainforests, but permitted us to note that a representative part of territorially dominant arboreal ant species (TDAAs) was inventoried. Mapping of TDAA territories and use of a null model showed the presence of an ant mosaic in the upper canopy, but this was not the case in the sub-canopy. Among the TDAAs, carton-nesting Azteca dominated (52.98% of the trees) whereas ant-garden ants (Camponotus femoratus and Crematogaster levior), common in pioneer formations, were secondarily abundant (21.64% of the trees), and the remaining 25.37% of trees sheltered one of 11 other TDAAs. The distribution of the trees forming the upper canopy influences the structure of the ant mosaic, which is related to the attractiveness of some tree taxa for certain arboreal ant species and represents a case of diffuse coevolution.


  • Fernandes, I. O. and J. L. P. de Souza. 2018. Dataset of long-term monitoring of ground-dwelling ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the influence areas of a hydroelectric power plant on the Madeira River in the Amazon Basin. Biodiversity Data Journal. 6:29. doi:10.3897/BDJ.6.e24375

Abstract Biodiversity loss is accelerating rapidly in response to increasing human influence on the Earth's natural ecosystems. One way to overcome this problem is by focusing on places of human interest and monitoring the changes and impacts on the biodiversity. This study was conducted at six sites within the influence area of the Santo Antonio Hydroelectric Power Plant in the margins of the Madeira River in Rondonia State. The sites cover a latitudinal gradient of approximately 100 km in the Brazilian Amazon Basin. The sampling design included six sampling modules with six plots (transects) each, totaling 30 sampling plots. The transects were distributed with 0 km, 0.5 km, 1 km, 2 km, 3 km and 4 km, measured perpendicularly from the river margin towards the interior of the forest. For sampling the ground-dwelling ants, the study used the ALL (ants of the leaf litter) protocol, which is standardized globally in the inventories of ant fauna. For the purpose of impact indicators, the first two campaigns (September 2011 to November 2011) were carried out in the prefilling period, while campaigns 3 to 10 (February 2012 to November 2014) were carried out during and after the filling of the hydroelectric reservoir. A total of 253 events with a total of 9,165 occurrences were accounted during the monitoring. The ants were distributed in 10 subfamilies, 68 genera and 324 species/morphospecies. The impact on ant biodiversity during the periods before and after filling was measured by ecological indicators and by the presence and absence of some species/morphospecies. This is the first study, as far as we know, including taxonomic and ecological treatment to monitor the impact of a hydroelectric power plant on ant fauna.


  • Freedman, M. G., R. H. Miller, and H. S. Rogers. 2018. Landscape-level bird loss increases the prevalence of honeydew-producing insects and non-native ants. Oecologia. 188:1263-1272. doi:10.1007/s00442-018-4273-5

Abstract Bird exclusion experiments consistently show that birds exhibit strong top-down control of arthropods, including ants and the honeydew-producing insects (HPIs) that they tend. However, it remains unclear whether the results of these small-scale bird exclosure experiments can be extrapolated to larger spatial scales. In this study, we use a natural bird removal experiment to compare the prevalence of ants and HPIs between Guam, an island whose bird community has been extirpated since the 1980s due to the introduction of the brown tree snake, and two nearby islands (Rota and Saipan) that have more intact bird assemblages. Consistent with smaller-scale bird exclosure experiments, we show that (1) forest trees from Guam are significantly more likely to host HPIs than trees from Saipan and (2) ants are nearly four times as abundant on Guam than on both Saipan and Rota. The prevalence of HPIs varied slightly based on tree species identity, although these effects were not as strong as island-level effects associated with bird loss. Ant community composition differed between Guam and the other two islands. These results corroborate past observational studies showing increased spider densities on Guam and suggest that trophic changes associated with landscape-level bird extirpation may also involve alterations in the abundance of ants and HPIs. This study also provides a clear example of the strong indirect effects that invasive species can have on natural food webs.


  • Kaynas, B. Y., K. Kiran, and C. Karaman. 2018. Long-term effects of fire on ant communities (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Pinus brutia forests of south-western Turkey. Zoology in the Middle East. 64:160-168. doi:10.1080/09397140.2018.1442302

Abstract We studied how forest fire affects the structure of ant communities in the long term and how microhabitat variables that influence communities of ants in different succession stages change. For this purpose, we selected five sites burnt 3 to 26 years prior to the study and a control site unburnt for at least 50 years. Sampling of ants was conducted in four pit-fall traps in four transects in three replication plots at every successional site and in two plots at the control site. Microhabitat variables regarding the vegetation structure and litter layers were recorded and related to the abundances of ants. The results show that subshrubs, leaves, and needles were the most important microhabitat variables that affected the ant communities. In certain ant genera, significant changes depending upon successional gradient were determined. While the genera Aphaenogaster and Cataglyphis had non-linear relationships with successional gradient, negative linear relationships were found in Crematogaster and Prenolepis. Messor is the only genus caught in high numbers in the earliest successional stage. It showed a decrease with successional gradient. Significant changes in ant communities along the successional gradient were associated with the characteristics of vegetation and the litter layer.

M - Z (by first author)

  • Marsh, C. J., R. M. Feitosa, J. Louzada, and R. M. Ewers. 2018. Is diversity of Amazonian ant and dung beetles communities elevated at rainforest edges? Journal of Biogeography. 45:1966-1979. doi:10.1111/jbi.13357

Abstract Aim: Thousands of kilometres of rainforest edges are created every year through forest fragmentation, but we have little knowledge of the impacts of edges on spatial patterns of species turnover and nestedness components of b-diversity. Location: A quasi-experimental landscape in the north-east Brazilian Amazon. Methods: We sampled dung beetles and ants using a sampling design based on a fractal series of equilateral triangles that naturally allows examination at multiple spatial scales. We sampled two edge types (primary-secondary and primary-Eucalyptus forest) and three control sites immersed in primary, secondary and Eucalyptus forest. We measured b-diversity between communities across the primary forest matrix edge and within communities at up to 1 km from the forest edge. We examined b-diversity at multiple scales by partitioning the dissimilarity matrix into fractal orders representing inter-point distances of ~32, ~100, ~316 and ~1,000 m and into turnover and nestedness components. Results: Turnover but not nestedness was greater across the primary-Eucalyptus forest than primary-secondary forest edge. There was spillover of species across edges in both directions. Across edges and within controls, turnover was the main driver of b-diversity. Within community, b-diversity was increased for dung beetles at large scales (~300–1,000 m) at both edge types. This increase, however, was driven by elevated nestedness. Levels of b-diversity were affected even ~300 m into habitat interiors, but appeared to be at control levels by 1 km. Main conclusions: The effects of edges on the spatial dynamics of community composition penetrated far beyond the typical distances at which forest structure and microclimate are altered. This indicates that for a significant proportion of Amazonian communities, the underlying processes determining diversity may be impacted by deforestation.


  • Rodriguez-de Leon, I. R., C. S. Venegas-Barrera, M. Vasquez-Bolanos, A. Correa-Sandoval, and J. V. Horta-Vega. 2018. Richness, Community Structure, and Diurnal Activity of Species of Ants along a Disturbance Gradient at El Cielo Biosphere Reserve, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Southwestern Entomologist. 43:919-938.

Abstract The effect of environmental variability on species richness, community structure, and daytime activity of ants along a disturbance gradient was examined at El Cielo Biosphere Reserve, Tamaulipas, Mexico. The study site was delimited by LANDSAT satellite images. Ants were evaluated using pitfall traps from 0800 to 1800 every hour for four consecutive days in August 2016. In total, 1190 individuals of 20 species and seven subfamilies were obtained. Six species responded positively to the disturbed environment during the morning, with variation between assessment days. The daytime activity of ant species was variable during the day along the disturbance gradient. Solenopsis geminata was the species that showed the most activity during most of the day in the study. Abundance of species differed between most environments each hour. The total variation explained by the first two axes of the relationship analysis of species abundance and environmental attributes was 83% (Axis 1: Temperature and humidity = 64%, Axis 2: Rocks = 19%). S. geminata and Forelius pruinosus were the species that responded significantly to the variables evaluated. The results suggested that environmental variability along a disturbance gradient determines the establishment of the niche and the diurnal activity profile of each species throughout the day and between days.


  • Salles, L. F. P., A. V. Christianini, and P. S. Oliveira. 2018. Dirt roads and fire breaks produce no edge effects on litter-dwelling arthropods in a tropical dry-forest: a case study. Journal of Insect Conservation. 22:647-657. doi:10.1007/s10841-018-0091-7

Abstract Edge effects threaten organisms and ecological processes in habitat remnants, but they have been poorly studied in non-humid forests such as cerradão, a tropical dry forest sometimes derived from fire-suppressed savanna in Brazil. The diverse ecosystem functions performed by arthropods may be disrupted by edge effects, and there is pressing need for more studies on this subject. We sampled fragments of cerradão facing either a road or fire breaks, assessing edge effects in: beta diversity and community composition of epigaeic (litter-dwelling) arthropod orders, ant species, and ant functional groups; ant species richness and diversity; leaf litter depth; and colony residence time of a predatory ground-dwelling ant, Odontomachus chelifer (Ponerinae). None of the variables measured differed between edge and interior of the sites sampled. Dry forests have high micro-climatic variations caused by discontinuities in the canopy cover and, as such, changes in abiotic variables in cerradão edges might not be as clear as those observed in tropical rainforests. Our study demonstrates that edge effects may not be so prevalent in cerradão facing roads or fire breaks, which possibly increases the chances of survival of a higher fraction of the original arthropod fauna compared to rainforest fragments.


  • Santiago, G. S., R. B. F. Campos, and C. R. Ribas. 2018. How does landscape anthropization affect the myrmecofauna of urban forest fragments? Sociobiology. 65:441-448. doi:10.13102/sociobiology.v65i3.3042

Abstract 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 fragment 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 areas within urban centers, including investments in ecological corridors connecting fragments and public policies seeking to preserve these areas.


  • Santos, L. A. O., A. Bischoff, and O. A. Fernandes. 2018. The effect of forest fragments on abundance, diversity and species composition of predatory ants in sugarcane fields. Basic and Applied Ecology. 33:58-65. doi:10.1016/j.baae.2018.08.009

Abstract Habitat loss and fragmentation have gradually caused loss of diversity and consequently the decline of ecological services. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of tropical forest fragments as natural habitats (river valley fragments and plateau fragments) on the community of predatory and omnivorous ants in nearby sugarcane fields. Twenty fields adjacent to these fragments were selected and evaluated one (dry season) and four months (rainy season) after harvest. In each field, ants were sampled in five linear plots (10 m inside the fragment, 0 m (field path between field and fragment), 5 m, 50 m and 100 m inside the crop fields). Each plot comprised ten sardine baits in a row parallel to the field edge. Species richness and frequency of ant species decreased with increasing distance from the forest fragments. Inside fields, species richness and frequency were higher during the period of vegetative growth (rainy season) than after harvest (dry season). Ant communities of sugarcane fields and forest fragments were more similar later in the season than directly after sugarcane harvest suggesting recolonization of the fields from the fragments. Several ant species were limited to forest fragments after harvest but occurred later in the season also in sugarcane fields confirming the potential contribution of fragments to the recolonization process and therefore to biological control of sugarcane-dominated pest insects.


  • Walter, B., A. Graclik, P. Tryjanowski, and O. Wasielewski. 2018. Ants Response to Human-Induced Disturbance in a Rain Tropical Forest. Neotropical Entomology. 47:757-762. doi:10.1007/s13744-018-0624-5

Abstract A high rate of human-induced disturbance of tropical ecosystems results in enormous loss of biodiversity due to local extinctions. Yet, mechanisms at the population level that lead to the extinction are still poorly understood. Here we tested the hypothesis that human-induced disturbance results in smaller amount of nesting sites for wood-dwelling arthropods that leads to smaller population size and diminished reproduction, and therefore, may promote local extinctions. We completed censuses in less-disturbed and human-disturbed secondary rain forest plots in Puerto Rico. We measured population size and brood production in wood-nesting ants and examined whether these parameters differ between less-disturbed and more-disturbed habitats. In addition, we measured volume of wood parts of all inhabited and potential nesting sites to assess nest site availability. We found that more human-disturbed forests furnish smaller nest sites, resulting in diminished population size and lowered brood production. Our study shows that human-induced disturbance decreases volume of available nesting sites that leads to decreased population size and lowered reproduction. Thus, in addition to the well-documented loss of species richness in human-disturbed tropical habitats, we demonstrated the direct effect of the disturbance that may promote vulnerability of local populations.