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Title: Ant diversity in an Amazonian savanna: Relationship with vegetation structure, disturbance by fire, and dominant ants
Authors: Vasconcelos, Heraldo L.
Leite, Marcos F.
Vilhena, José M.S.
Lima, Albertina Pimental
Magnusson, William Ernest
Keywords: Ant
Community Dynamics
Environmental Disturbance
Intraspecific Competition
Population Decline
Recruitment (population Dynamics)
Spatial Variation
Temporal Variation
Vegetation Cover
South America
Solenopsis Geminata
Solenopsis Substituta
Trachypogon Plumosus
Wasmannia Auropunctata
Issue Date: 2008
metadata.dc.publisher.journal: Austral Ecology
metadata.dc.relation.ispartof: Volume 33, Número 2, Pags. 221-231
Abstract: The savannas of South America support a relatively diverse ant fauna, but little is known about the factors that influence the structure and dynamics of these assemblages. In 1998 and 2002, we surveyed the ground-dwelling ant fauna and the fauna associated with the woody vegetation (using baits and direct sampling) from an Amazonian savanna. The aim was to evaluate the influence of vegetation structure, disturbance by fire and dominant ants on patterns of ant species richness and composition. Variations in the incidence of fires among our 39 survey plots had no or only limited influence on these patterns. In contrast, spatial variations in tree cover and cover by tall grasses (mostly Trachypogon plumosus), significantly affected ant species composition. Part of the variation in species richness among the study plots correlated with variations in the incidence of a dominant species (Solenopsis substituta) at baits. Ant species richness and composition also varied through time, possibly as an indirect effect of changes in vegetation cover. In many plots, and independently of disturbance by fire, there was a major increase in cover by tall grasses, which occupied areas formerly devoid of vegetation. Temporal changes in vegetation did not directly explain the observed increase in the number of ant species per plot. However, the incidence of S. substituta at baits declined sharply in 2002, especially in plots where changes in vegetation cover were more dramatic, and that decline was correlated with an increase in the number of ground-dwelling species, a greater turnover of bait-recruiting species and the appearance of the little fire ant Wasmannia auropunctata. The extent to which these changes in fact resulted from the relaxation of dominance by S. substituta is not clear. However, our results strongly suggest that the ant fauna of Amazonian savannas is affected directly and indirectly by the structure of the vegetation. © 2008 The Authors.
metadata.dc.identifier.doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9993.2007.01811.x
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