Ants of Three Adjacent Habitats of a Transition Region Between the Cerrado and Caatinga Biomes: The Effects of Heterogeneity and Variation in Canopy Cover

Abstract

Habitat heterogeneity and complexity associated with variations in climatic conditions are important factors determining the structure of ant communities in different terrestrial ecosystems. The objective of this study was to describe the horizontal and vertical distribution patterns of the ant community associated with three adjacent habitats in a transition area between the Cerrado and Caatinga biomes at the Pandeiros River, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. We tested the following hypotheses: (1) the richness and composition of ant species and functional group structure changes between different habitats and strata; (2) habitats with higher tree species richness and density support higher ant species richness; and (3) habitats with lower variation in canopy cover support higher ant species richness. Sampling was conducted in three adjacent habitats and at three vertical strata. Ant species richness was significantly different among vertical strata. Ant species composition was different among both habitats and vertical strata and functional group structure was divergent among habitats. Partitioning of the diversity revealed that the diversity for the three components was statistically different from the one expected by the null model; α and β 2 were higher and β 1 was lower than the values expected by chance. Tree density and variation in canopy cover negatively affected ant species richness. The occurrence of different species and the changing of functional group structures in different habitats and strata suggest an ecological–evolutionary relationship between ants and their habitats and emphasize the need to implement local conservation strategies in the ecotones between biomes.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank two anonymous reviewers and Patrícia Moreira and Ricardo Campos for useful comments on a previous version of the manuscript. We also thank the Graduate Programs of Unimontes (Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Biológicas (PPGCB) and the Instituto Estadual de Florestas for logistic support. This study was supported by CNPq (ED. 35/2006, no. 555978/2006-0).

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Neves, F.S., Queiroz-Dantas, K.S., da Rocha, W.D. et al. Ants of Three Adjacent Habitats of a Transition Region Between the Cerrado and Caatinga Biomes: The Effects of Heterogeneity and Variation in Canopy Cover. Neotrop Entomol 42, 258–268 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13744-013-0123-7

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Keywords

  • Beta diversity
  • community structure
  • conservation strategies
  • functional groups
  • habitat structure
  • vertical stratification