Habitat conversion and galling insect richness in tropical rainforests under mining effect
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Human-induced habitat change is the main cause of species loss and can have severe effects on plant communities and the associated herbivore fauna. In this study, we investigated the effects of habitat conversion due to mining on communities of galling insects in areas of tropical rainforest in the Brazilian Amazon. We sampled galling insects in the Floresta Nacional de Saracá Taquera, Pará, Brazil, where forest plateaus are used by the Mineração Rio do Norte Group to extract bauxite. Our results show that human-induced habitat change via mining activities increased the local species richness of galling insects. We also found that after impact there was greater species richness of galling insects closer to the forest edge than in the forest interior. Changes in plant physiology and in the diversity of natural enemies in human-modified habitats, along with the endophagous life-form, might account for the high incidence of galling in human-disturbed habitats. This result highlights the importance of understanding how different insect groups respond to human activities, since such idiosyncrasies might have profound effects on the species’ patterns of ecological interactions and in the outcomes of those interactions.
KeywordsGalls Habitat change Phytophagous insects Tropical forest
We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers by important suggestions to manuscript; to our colleagues who helped with the field work; to Erik Wild by English revision; to Mineração Rio do Norte Group for project funding; to STCP Engenharia de Projetos Ltda for logistical support; to Hexapoda Researchers Co-operation for the technical and scientific support; and to ICMBio of Porto Trombetas and IBAMA for licenses for the development of the research.
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