Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 329–344 | Cite as

Ant assemblages of Brazil nut trees Bertholletia excelsa in forest and pasture habitats in the Southwestern Brazilian Amazon

  • Amanda Batista da Silva de Oliveira
  • Fernando Augusto Schmidt
Original Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Forest and plantation biodiversity


In the Southwestern Brazilian Amazon, the Brazil nut tree Bertholletia excelsa is the most conspicuous remnant element of original forest ecosystems in human-modified landscapes. They often exist in pastures that have very different environmental characteristics than forests. In our study, we surveyed the ant fauna of Brazil nut trees in forest and pasture habitats in the Southwestern Brazilian Amazon. Specifically, we addressed the following questions: (i) How do arboreal ant assemblages of Brazil nut tree crowns change based on habitat type? (ii) What is the contribution of forest ant species from Brazil nut tree crowns to ant assemblages in pasture Brazil nut tree crowns? (iii) What features of pasture Brazil nut trees lead to a greater number of arboreal ant species? We selected 20 trees in each habitat type (forest and pasture) and collected ant samples both at the soil surface and at tree crowns, sampling a total of 184 ant species. Species composition was primarily determined by sampling layer. We found that the number of ant species was 63% lower in pasture than in forest tree crowns. The dissimilarity between the ant assemblages of tree crown and soil surface remained almost the same in both habitats. There was relatively little overlap in species composition in the forest tree crowns versus the pasture tree crowns, with species replacement component highly contributing to the differences. We conclude that scattered Brazil nut trees plays limited role on the conservation of its associated biodiversity in human-modified landscapes such as pastures.


Biodiversity Fragmentation Land use changes Scattered tree ecosystems Vertical stratification 



We thank CAPES and CNPq for financial support and grant to A. Oliveira. We are in debt with A. Munaretti for his support with the satellite imagery of the study area. We are most grateful to Mr. Cosmotil to allow us to work in his farm. We also thank several colleagues for their help with field work. We thank the Mr. Divine of the Forest School for providing support materials for climbing. We thank Karla and Daniela that helped with ant mounting and sorting. We are most grateful to A. Ferreira, G. Camacho, T. Silva and R. Feitosa for their kind support on ant identification work. We thank R. Solar for his support with statistical analyses. We also thank C. Ribas, T. Sobrinho, F. Baccaro, E. Morato, H. Mews and referees for the reading of previous versions of the manuscript. We are also most of grateful to P. Newton and R. Benzeev for their kind review on English writing in the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10531_2018_1657_MOESM1_ESM.docx (41 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 40 kb)


  1. Acre (2006) Governo do Estado do Acre. Programa Estadual de Zoneamento Ecológico-Econômico do Estado do Acre. Zoneamento Ecológico-Econômico do Acre Fase II: documento Síntese-escala 1: 250.000. SEMA, Rio BrancoGoogle Scholar
  2. Antmaps (2015) Antmaps. Accessed 12 Jan 2016Google Scholar
  3. Araújo EA, Lani JL (2012) Uso sustentável de ecossistemas de pastagens cultivadas na Amazônia Ocidental. SEMA, Rio BrancoGoogle Scholar
  4. Baccaro FB, Feitosa RM, Fernández F, Fernandes IO, Izzo TJ, Souza JLP, Solar RRC (2015) Guia para os gêneros de formigas do Brasil. INPA, ManausGoogle Scholar
  5. Baselga A (2010) Partitioning the turnover and nestedness components of beta diversity. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 19:134–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baselga A, Orme D, Villeger S, De Bortoli J, Leprieur F (2013) betapart: partitioning beta diversity into turnover and nestedness components. R package version 1.3.
  7. Bates D, Maechler M, Bolker B, Walker S (2015) Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. J Start Softw.
  8. Bayma MMA, Malavazi FW, De Sá CP, Fonseca FL, Andrade EP, Wadt LHO (2014) Aspectos da cadeia produtiva da castanha-do-brasil no estado do Acre, Brasil. Boletim do Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. Ciênc Nat 9:417–426Google Scholar
  9. Bestelmeyer BT, Agosti D, Alonso LE, Brandão CRF, Brown WL, Delabie JHC, Silvestre R (2000) Field techniques for the study of ground dwelling ants: an overview, description, and evaluation. In: Agosti D, Majer JD, Alonso LE, Schultz TR (eds) Ants: standard methods for measuring and monitoring biodiversity. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London, pp 122–144Google Scholar
  10. Bierregaard RO Jr, Gascon C, Lovejoy TE, Mesquita RCG (2001) Lessons from Amazonia: the ecology and conservation of a fragmented forest. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  11. Blüthgen N, Feldhaar H (2010) Food and shelter: how resources influence ant ecology. In: Lach L, Parr CL, Abbott KL (eds) Ant Ecology. University Press, Oxford, pp 134–155Google Scholar
  12. Bolker MB, Brooks ME, Clark CJ, Geange SW, Poulsen JR, Stevens MHH, White JSS (2009) Generalized linear mixed models: a practical guide for ecology and evolution. Trends Ecol Evol 24:127–135. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Campos RI, Vasconcelos HL, Ribeiro SP, Neves FS, Soares JP (2006) Relationship between tree size and insect assemblages associated with. Ecography 29:442–450. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cardoso P, Rigal F, Carvalho JC (2018) BAT: Biodiversity Assessment Tools. R package version 1.6.0.
  15. Carvalho KS, Vasconcelos HL (1999) Forest fragmentation in central Amazonia and its effects on litter-dwelling ants. Biol Conserv 91:151–158. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Carvalho JC, Cardoso P, Gomes P (2012) Determining the relative roles of species replacement and species richness differences in generating beta-diversity patterns. Global Ecol Biogeogr 21:760–771. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cavalcante MC, Oliveira FF, Maués MM, Freitas BM (2012) Pollination requirements and the foraging behavior of potential pollinators of cultivated Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa Bonpl.) trees in Central Amazon rainforest. Psyche J Entomol 2012:1–9. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Crawley MJ (2013). The R book, 2nd edn Chichester. Wiley-Blackwell, UKGoogle Scholar
  19. Cuissi RG, Lasmar CJ, Moretti TS, Schmidt FA, Fernandes WD, Falleiros AB, Schoereder JH, Ribas CR (2015) Ant community in natural fragments of the Brazil wetland: species–area relation and isolation. J Insect Conserv 19:531–537. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Daly DC, Silveira M (2008) Primeiro Catálogo da Flora do Acre, Brasil. Rio Branco, EDUFACGoogle Scholar
  21. De Castro Solar RR, Barlow J, Andersen AN, Schoereder JH, Berenguer E, Ferreira JN, Gardner TA (2016) Biodiversity consequences of land-use change and forest disturbance in the Amazon: a multi-scale assessment using ant communities. Biol Conserv 197(5):98–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. De Queiroz ACM, Rabello AM, Braga DL, Santiago GS, Zurlo LF, Philpott SM, Ribas CR (2017) Cerrado vegetation types determine how land use impacts ant biodiversity. Biodivers Conserv. Google Scholar
  23. Delabie JHC, Fowler HG (1995) Soil and litter cryptic ant assemblages of Bahia cocoa plantations. Pedobiologia 39:423–433Google Scholar
  24. Duarte AF (2006) Aspectos da Climatologia do Acre, Brasil, base com nenhuma Intervalo 1971–2000. Rev Bras Meteorol 21:308–317Google Scholar
  25. Dunn RR (2000) Isolated trees as foci of diversity in active and fallow fields. Biol Conserv 95:317–321. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fearnside PM (2005) Desmatamento na Amazônia brasileira: história, índices e consequências. Megadiversidade 1:113–123Google Scholar
  27. Fischer J, Stott J, Law BS (2010) The disproportionate value of scattered trees. Biol Conserv 143:1564–1567. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Frizzo TLM, Vasconcelo HL (2013) The potential role of scattered trees for ant conservation in an agriculturally dominated neotropical landscape. Biotropica 45:644–651. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gibbons P, Lindenmayer DB, Fischer J, Manning AD, Weinberg A, Seddon J, Ryan P, Barrett G (2008) The future of scattered trees in agricultural landscapes. Conserv Biol 22:1309–1319. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gove AD, Majer JD, Rico-Gray V (2009) Ant assemblages in isolated trees are more sensitive to species loss and replacement than their woodland counterparts. Basic Appl Ecol 10:187–195. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Haugaasen JM, Haugaasen T, Peres CA, Gribel R, Wegge P (2010) Seed dispersal of the Brazil nut tree (Bertholletia excelsa) by scatter-hoarding rodents in a central Amazonian forest. J Trop Ecol 26:251–262. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. INMET (2016) Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia. IOP Publishing Physics Web: Accessed 25 Sept 2016
  33. IUCN 2017. Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1. Accessed 13 June 2017
  34. Kennedy CEJ, Southwood TRE (1984) The number of species of insects associated with British trees: a re-analysis. J Anim Ecol 53:455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Magurran AE (2011) Medindo a diversidade biológica. Ed. da UFPRGoogle Scholar
  36. Majer JD, Delabie JHC (1999) Impact of tree isolation on arboreal and ground ant communities in cleared pasture in the Atlantic rain forest region of Bahia, Brazil. Insectes Soc 46:281–290. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Manning AD, Fischer J, Lindenmayer DB (2006) Scattered trees are keystone structures—implications for conservation. Biol Conserv 132:311–321. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Matthews TJ, Cottee-Jones HEW, Bregman TP, Whittaker RJ (2017) Assessing the relative importance of isolated Ficus trees to insectivorous birds in an Indian human-modified tropical landscape. Biodivers Conserv 26:2803–2819. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Medeiros H, Castro W, Salimon CI, Da Silva IB, Silveira M (2013) Tree mortality, recruitment and growth in a bamboo dominated forest fragment in southwestern Amazonia, Brazil. Biota Neotrop 13:29–34. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Medeiros H, Obermüller FA, Daly DC, Silveira M, Castro W, Forzza RC (2014) Botanical advances in Southwestern Amazonia: the flora of Acre (Brazil) five years after the first catalogue. Phytotaxa 177:101–117. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Miranda PN, Oliveira MA, Baccaro FB, Morato EF, Delabie JHC (2012) Check list of ground-dwelling ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the eastern Acre, Amazon, Brazil. Check List 8:722–730. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Miranda PN, Morato EF, Oliveira MA, Delabie JHC (2013) Richness and composition of ants as indicators of the reduced impact logging in tropical forest in the state of Acre. Rev Árvore 37:163–173. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Miranda PN, Baccaro FB, Morato EF, Oliveira M, Delabie JHC (2017) Limited effects of low-intensity forest management on ant assemblages in southwestern Amazonian forests. Biodivers Conserv 26:2435–2451. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Munzbergova Z, Ward D (2002) Acacia trees as keystone species in Negev desert ecosystems. J Veg Sci 13:227–236.;2 Google Scholar
  45. Nakamura A, Catterall CP, House AP, Kitching RL, Burwell CJ (2007). The use of ants and other soil and litter arthropods as bio-indicators of the impacts of rainforest clearing and subsequent land use. J Insect Conserv 11:177–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Neves FS, Braga RF, Antônio LS, Campos RI, Fagundes M (2012) Differential effects of land use on ant and herbivore insect communities associated with Caryocar brasiliense (Caryocaraceae). Rev Biol Trop 60:1065–1073CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Obermüller AF, Silveira M, Salimon CI, Daly DC (2012) Epiphytic (including hemiepiphytes) diversity in three timber species in the southwestern Amazon, Brazil. Biodivers Conserv 21:565–575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Oksanen JF, Blanchet G, Kindt R, Legendre P R, Minchin RB, O’Hara Simpson GL, Solymos PM, Stevens HH, Wagner H (2015) vegan: Community Ecology Package. R package version 2.3 2.
  49. Oliveira MA, Della Lucia TMC, Marinho CGS, Delabie JHC, Morato EF (2009) Ant diversity in an area of the amazon forest in Acre, Brazil. Sociobiology 54:243–268Google Scholar
  50. Oliveira MA, Della Lucia TMC, Morato EF, Amaro MA, Marinho CG (2011) Vegetation structure and richness: effects on ant fauna of the AmazonAcre, Brazil (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 57:243–267Google Scholar
  51. Oliveira-Santos LGR, Loyola RD, Vargas AB (2009) Crown traps: a technique for sampling arboreal ants in forest vertical strata. Neotrop Entomol 38:691–694. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Peres CA, Baider C (1997) Seed dispersal, spatial distribution and population structure of Brazil nut trees (Bertholletia excelsa) in southeastern Amazonia. J Trop Ecol 13:595–616. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Peres CA, Schiesari LC, Dias-Leme CL (1997) Vertebrate predation of brazil- nuts (Bertholletia excelsa, Lecythidaceae) an agouti dispersed Amazonia seed crop: a test of the escape hypothesis. J Trop Ecol 13:69–79. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Philpott SM, Perfecto I, Armbrecht I, Parr CL (2010) Ant diversity and function in disturbed and changing habitats. Ant ecology. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 137–157Google Scholar
  55. Powell AH, Powell GVN (1987) Population dynamics of male euglossine bees in Amazonian forest fragments. Biotropica 19:176–179. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. R Development Core Team R (2015) A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing.
  57. Ribas CR, Schoereder JH (2007) Ant communities, environmental characteristics and their implications for conservation in the Brazilian Pantanal. Biodivers Conserv 16:1511–1520CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Ribas CR, Schoereder JH, Pic M, Soares SM (2003) Tree heterogeneity, resource availability, and larger scale process regulating arboreal ant species richness. Austral Ecol 28:305–314. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ribas CR, Sobrinho TG, Schoereder JH, Sperber CF, Lopes-Andrade C, Soares SM (2005) How large is large enough for insects? Forest fragmentation effects at three spatial scales. Acta Oecol 27:31–41. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sanders NJ, Crutsinger GM, Dunn RR, Majer JD, Delabie JH (2007). An ant mosaic revisited: dominant ant species disassemble arboreal ant communities but co-occur randomly. Biotropica 39:422–427. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Schmidt FA, Ribas CR, Schoereder JH (2013) How predictable is the response of ant assemblages to natural forest recovery? Implications for their use as bioindicators. Ecol Ind 24:158–166. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Schoereder JH, Galbiati C, Ribas CR, Sobrinho TG, Sperber CF, De Souza O, Lopes-Andrade C (2004a) Should we use proportional sampling for species-area studies? J Biogeogr 31:1219–1226. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schoereder JH, Sobrinho TG, Ribas CR, Campos RBF (2004b) Colonization and extinction of ant communities in a fragmented landscape. Austral Ecol 29:391–398. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Schonberg LA, Longino JT, Nadkarni NM, Yanoviak SP (2004) Arboreal ant species richness in primary forest, secondary forest, and pasture habitats of a tropical montane landscape. Biotropica 36:402–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Suguituru SS, Morini MS de C, Feitosa RM, Silva RR (2015) Formigas do Alto Tietê. Canal 6, Bauru, SPGoogle Scholar
  66. Vasconcelos HL (1999) Effects of forest disturbance on the structure of ground-foraging ant communities in central Amazonia. Biodivers Conserv 8:409–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Vasconcelos HL, Vilhena JMS, Caliri GJA (2000) Responses of ants to selective logging of a central Amazonian forest. J Appl Ecol 37:508–514. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Vasconcelos HL, Maravalhas JB, Feitosa RM, Pacheco R, Neves KC, Andersen A (2018) Neotropical savanna ants show a reversed latitudinal gradient of species richness, with climatic drivers reflecting the forest origin of the fauna. J Biogeogr 45:248–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wadt LHO, Kainer KA (2009) Domesticação e melhoramento da castanheira. In: Borém A, Lopes MTG, Clement CR (org). Domesticação e Melhoramento—Espécies Amazônicas. 1 ed. Suprema, Visconde de Rio Branco, pp 301–321Google Scholar
  70. Wiesher PT, Pearce-Duvet JMC, Feener DH (2012) Assembling an ant community: species functional traits reflect environmental filtering. Oecologia 169:1063–1074. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Yanoviak SP, Kaspari M (2000) Community structure and the habitat templet: ants in the tropical forest crown and litter. Oikos 89:259–266. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-graduação em Ecologia e Manejo de Recursos NaturaisUniversidade Federal do Acre (UFAC)Rio BrancoBrazil
  2. 2.Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da NaturezaUFACRio BrancoBrazil

Personalised recommendations