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Psyche
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 896473, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/896473
Research Article

Undecomposed Twigs in the Leaf Litter as Nest-Building Resources for Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Areas of the Atlantic Forest in the Southeastern Region of Brazil

1Laboratório de Mirmecologia, Universidade de Mogi das Cruzes, 08701-970 Mogi das Cruzes, SP, Brazil
2Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo, Avenida Nazaré 481, Ipiranga, 04263-000 São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Received 12 June 2012; Revised 15 September 2012; Accepted 17 September 2012

Academic Editor: Diana E. Wheeler

Copyright © 2012 Tae Tanaami Fernandes et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

In tropical forests, the leaf-litter stratum exhibits one of the greatest abundances of ant species. This diversity is associated with the variety of available locations for nest building. Ant nests can be found in various microhabitats, including tree trunks and fallen twigs in different stages of decomposition. In this study, we aimed to investigate undecomposed twigs as nest-building resources in the leaf litter of dense ombrophilous forest areas in the southeastern region of Brazil. Demographic data concerning the ant colonies, the physical characteristics of the nests, and the population and structural of the forest were observed. Collections were performed manually over four months in closed canopy locations that did not have trails or flooded areas. A total of 294 nests were collected, and 34 ant species were recorded. Pheidole, Camponotus, and Hypoponera were the richest genera observed; these genera were also among the most populous and exhibited the greatest abundance of nests. We found no association between population size and nest diameter. Only tree cover influenced the nest abundance and species richness. Our data indicate that undecomposed twigs may be part of the life cycle of many species and are important for maintaining ant diversity in the leaf litter.