When is the best period to sample ants in tropical areas impacted by mining and in rehabilitation process?
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Fluctuating resources and conditions can regulate the community structure of ants, affecting their activities and interactions. This has important implications for the selection of sampling periods during bioindication studies. The aim of this study was to evaluate if the chosen sampling period influences the response of ant assemblage diversity and ecological function to mining impacts and rehabilitation age after mining. We used ant assemblage parameters, including arboreal, epigaeic and hypogaeic ant species richness and composition, seed-removing ant species richness and composition, and seed removal rate in areas impacted by mining and with different rehabilitation ages. We showed that in most cases the response is the same, regardless of sampling period. However, we suggest that ant sampling is best undertaken in the rainy period, when ant species richness reaches higher values and the assemblage composition presents a well-marked difference among the areas. We also indicate that the epigaeic ant assemblage is sufficient for evaluating mining impacts, but arboreal strata should also be sampled in rehabilitation scenarios.
KeywordsBioindication Cerrado Formicidae Assemblage diversity Seed removal
This work resulted from the research project: FAPEMIG—CRA—RDP–00123-10—“Biodiversidade e funções ecológicas de formigas—bioindicação de impactos ambientais e de recuperação de áreas degradadas”. We are thankful to Vale S.A. who permitted sampling in its mining and rehabilitation sites, to Ramon Braga and Cássio Mendanha for helping to choose the mining sites for the study, and Anderson Matos for helping us inside the sites. We thank the Chemical, Biochemical and Food Analyses Laboratory (Food Engineering Department, Federal University of Lavras) for providing a space to produce the artificial fruits. We are grateful to colleagues at LEF: E.A. Silva, T. Moretti and F. Tanure for helping us with fieldwork. We also thank R. Feitosa and D. Braga for verifying ant species identification. We are also thankful to Ross Thomas for revising the English, and the anonymous reviewers who improved this manuscript. The authors received grants from CAPES, CNPq and FAPEMIG.
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