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Volume 2012, Article ID 636749, 23 pages
Review Article

Ants as Indicators in Brazil: A Review with Suggestions to Improve the Use of Ants in Environmental Monitoring Programs

1Laboratory of Ant Ecology, Sector of Ecology, Department of Biology, Federal University of Lavras, 37200-000 Lavras, MG, Brazil
2Institute of Education of Divinópolis, Educational Foundation of Divinópolis, 35501-170 Divinópolis, MG, Brazil
3Post-Graduate Program in Entomology, Department of Entomology, Federal University of Viçosa, 36570-000, Viçosa, MG, Brazil

Received 31 May 2011; Revised 11 August 2011; Accepted 16 August 2011

Academic Editor: Jonathan D. Majer

Copyright © 2012 Carla R. Ribas 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.


We describe the use of ants as indicators in Brazil, based on a critical review of published articles. The analysis of fifty-eight papers, encompassing a range of almost 25 years, indicates an increased number of studies using ants as indicators in the last decade. Among the parameters analyzed in the papers, species composition is the most suitable to evaluate the effect of the disturbance on ant communities. The use of other metrics that consider the specificity and fidelity (e.g., IndVal index) of ant species to a level or state of disturbance is also highly desirable. We discuss several alternative ways of overcoming many of the drawbacks related to the robustness of the results and to reduce the financial, logistic, and time costs involved with the use of ants as indicators in monitoring programs. By doing so, we expect to encourage new research on ants as bioindicators as well as to summarize current knowledge, facilitating further research.