Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 13, pp 3425–3445 | Cite as

Effectiveness of genera as a higher-taxon substitute for species in ant biodiversity analyses is not affected by sampling technique

  • Jorge L. P. SouzaEmail author
  • Fabricio B. Baccaro
  • Pedro A. C. L. Pequeno
  • Elizabeth Franklin
  • William E. Magnusson
Original Paper


Survey costs and a lack of taxonomists are often the main impediments to biodiversity inventories. The use of a higher-taxon approach that is efficient in representing species patterns within a short period of time is one way to overcome these constraints, especially if these responses are consistent at various spatial scales and sampling techniques. Here, we evaluated whether the use of pitfall trapping or Winkler extraction influenced the utility of genus as a surrogate to predict patterns of species richness and composition related to environment. The study sites were spread along 10 degrees of latitude, covering phytophysiognomies with different topographic characteristics. We recorded 450 ant species/morphospecies distributed in 70 genera. Pitfall-traps captured a larger proportion of species (77–98%) and genera (71–100%) per site. Genus was efficient in predicting variations in richness, and assemblage composition detected at the species level, using pitfall-traps or Winkler extractors. The higher-taxon approach saved approximately 40% of the surveys costs. The negative effect of the species-genus ratio was detected only on species composition, but it did not affect the quality of predictions using genera. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that genus can be used as a proxy for broader sets of species independent of sampling technique or environmental heterogeneity. The use of pitfall-traps or Winkler extractors for genus-level identification proved to be cost-efficient and time-efficient and should work well in other regions requiring conservation effort and monitoring programs.


Amazon Ants Beta diversity Standardized sampling protocol Surrogate Tropical forest 



We thank all the anonymous reviewers who helped improve this manuscript. Juliana Araújo, Pollyana Cavalcante, Camila Gomes, Adriano Oliveira, Marcos Torres, Carlos Nogueira, Claudio Santos-Neto, and all field guides for help in sampling ants. Fernando Fernández, Jacques Delabie, John Longino, José Vilhena, Itanna Fernandes and Rodrigo Feitosa confirmed the species identifications for this study. Financial support was provided by the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisas do Estado do Amazonas (FAPEAM) PIPT/1750/08, FIXAM/AM 062.01325/2014 and Universal Amazonas 62.00674/2015; the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) PNPD/03017/19-05; Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), PRONEX 16/2006; the Programa de Pesquisa em Biodiversidade (PPBio) 558318/2009-6, 457545/2012-7; the Programa de Pesquisas Ecológicas de Longa Duração (PELD) 403764/2012-2; the Centro de Estudos Integrados da Biodiversidade Amazônica (CENBAM). PACLP was supported by a CNPq post-doctoral scholarship. FBB, EF and WEM held CNPq Productivity grants.

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em EntomologiaInstituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA)ManausBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciência e Tecnologia para Recursos AmazônicosInstituto de Ciências Exatas e Tecnologia (ICET)ItacoatiaraBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de Biologia, Universidade Federal do Amazonas (UFAM)ManausBrazil
  4. 4.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Recursos NaturaisUniversidade Federal de Roraima (UFRR)Boa VistaBrazil
  5. 5.Coordenação de Pesquisas em Biodiversidade, INPAManausBrazil
  6. 6.Centro de Estudos Integrados da Biodiversidade Amazônica (CENBAM)ManausBrazil

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