Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 64, Issue 4, pp 505–514 | Cite as

Ant and termite communities in isolated and continuous forest fragments in Singapore

  • T. Bourguignon
  • C. A. L. Dahlsjö
  • J. Jacquemin
  • L. Gang
  • L. S. Wijedasa
  • T. A. Evans
Research Article


The conservation of tropical rainforest biodiversity is a pressing issue, due to the rapid rate of deforestation. Secondary forests may provide a useful alternative to old growth forests, as they often contain a substantial proportion of the original biodiversity. In this study, we investigate species richness, density and composition of ants and termites in six forest sites in Singapore, each differing in habitat isolation and land-use history. The six sites include an old growth forest, a selectively logged old growth forest, and four secondary forests: either located on abandoned agricultural lands or in abandoned villages, and either isolated or adjacent to old growth forests. We found that the old growth forest had significantly higher species density of ants and termites than any other site. Rarefaction curves showed that ant and termite species richness were highest in the old growth forest followed by the selectively logged forest albeit these results were not significantly different from other sites. Ant species composition changed along a gradient of fragment isolation. Termite community composition in the old growth forest shared a higher proportion of species with the adjacent secondary forest, than with the selectively logged old growth forest, suggesting that the species pool of adjacent habitats is important for species re-colonisation of regenerating habitats. Our results suggest, albeit without replications, that secondary forests differ in conservation value and that disturbed habitats in continuous forest fragments recover more rapidly than isolated ones. Further, we emphasise the importance of old growth forest fragments within man-made ecosystems as sources of original biodiversity.


Biodiversity Conservation biology Community ecology Singapore Species richness 



We thank M. Lee Ai Lan and M. Jendryka for field assistance, and T. Delsinne for his help with ant identifications. This work was supported by the LHK fund of the National University of Singapore; by the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology; and by the Internal Grant Agency of Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences (Specific research of the Czech University of Life Sciences) (Nos. 20134359 and B03/15). T.B. was supported by the University of Sydney through a postdoctoral fellowship. C.A.L.D was Funded by CIGA 20154318 and IGA B03/15 from the Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague.

Supplementary material

40_2017_570_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (46 kb)
Table S1. Ant occurrence in the six sampling sites: OGF: old growth forest; SL: selectively logged forest; SAC: secondary forest on abandoned agricultural land in continuous forest patch, SVC: secondary forest on abandoned village land in continuous forest fragment, SVI: secondary forest on abandoned village land in isolated forest fragment, SAI: secondary forest on abandoned agricultural land in isolated forest fragment. 1 (XLSX 46 kb)
40_2017_570_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (46 kb)
Table S2. Termite occurrence in the six sampling sites: OGF: old growth forest; SL: selectively logged forest; SAC: secondary forest on abandoned agricultural land in continuous forest patch, SVC: secondary forest on abandoned village land in continuous forest fragment, SVI: secondary forest on abandoned village land in isolated forest fragment, SAI: secondary forest on abandoned agricultural land in isolated forest fragment. * indicate species for which identification is unsure. Feeding-groups were either: W, wood-feeders; or S, soil-feeders. 2 (XLSX 46 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Faculty of Forestry and Wood SciencesCzech University of Life SciencesPragueCzech Republic
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate UniversityOkinawaJapan
  5. 5.Biodiversity Monitoring and AssessmentRoyal Belgian Institute of Natural SciencesBrusselsBelgium
  6. 6.Singapore Botanic Gardens 1SingaporeSingapore
  7. 7.RimbaBandar Baru BangiMalaysia
  8. 8.School of Animal BiologyUniversity of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

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