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Title: Association of Ant Predators and Edaphic Conditions with Termite Diversity in an Amazonian Rain Forest
Authors: Sales Dambros, Cristian de
Morais, José Wellington
Vasconcellos, Alexandre
Souza, Jorge Luiz Pereira
Franklin, E.
Gotelli, Nicholas J.
Keywords: Ant
Environmental Gradient
Inorganic Phosphorus
Population Density
Predator-prey Interaction
Soil Chemistry
Soil Texture
Species Diversity
Species Richness
Top-down Control
Vegetation Cover
Issue Date: 2016
metadata.dc.publisher.journal: Biotropica
metadata.dc.relation.ispartof: Volume 48, Número 2, Pags. 237-245
Abstract: Predation is a key determinant of prey community structure, but few studies have measured the effect of multiple predators on a highly diverse prey community. In this study, we asked whether the abundance, species richness, and species composition of a species-rich assemblage of termites in an Amazonian rain forest is more strongly associated with the density of predatory ants or with measures of vegetation, and soil texture and chemistry. We sampled termite assemblages with standardized hand-collecting in 30 transects arranged in a 5 km × 6 km grid in a terra firme Amazonian rain forest. For each transect, we also measured vegetation structure, soil texture, and soil phosphorus, and estimated the density of predatory ants from baits, pitfall traps, and Winkler samples. Seventy-nine termite species were recorded, and the total density of predatory ants was the strongest single predictor of local termite abundance (r = -0.66) and termite species richness (r = -0.44). In contrast, termite abundance and species richness were not strongly correlated with edaphic conditions (|r| < 0.01), or with the density of non-predatory ants (rabund = -0.27; rs = -0.06). Termite species composition was correlated with soil phosphorus content (r = 0.79), clay content (r = -0.75), and tree density (r = -0.42). Assemblage patterns were consistent with the hypothesis that ants collectively behaved as generalist predators, reducing total termite abundance, and species richness. There was no evidence that ants behaved as keystone predators, or that any single termite species benefited from the reduction in the abundance of potential competitors. © 2016 The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.
metadata.dc.identifier.doi: 10.1111/btp.12270
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