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Biotic and abiotic determinants of the formation of ant mosaics in primary Neotropical rainforests

Abstract : Ants are widespread in tropical rainforests, including in the canopy where territorially dominant arboreal species represent the main part of the arthropod biomass. By mapping the territories of dominant arboreal ant species and using a null model analysis and a pairwise approach this study was able to show the presence of an ant mosaic on the upper canopy of a primary Neotropical rainforest (c. 1 ha sampled; 157 tall trees from 28 families). Although Neotropical rainforest canopies are frequently irregular, with tree crowns at different heights breaking the continuity of the territories of dominant ants, the latter are preserved via underground galleries or trails laid on the ground. The distribution of the trees influences the structure of the ant mosaic, something related to the attractiveness of tree taxa for certain arboreal ant species rather than others. Small-scale natural disturbances, most likely strong winds in the area studied (presence of canopy gaps), play a role by favouring the presence of two ant species typical of secondary formations: Camponotus femoratus and Crematogaster levior, which live in parabiosis (i.e. share territories and nests but lodge in different cavities) and build conspicuous ant gardens. In addition, pioneer Cecropia myrmecophytic trees were recorded.
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Alain Dejean, Arthur Compin, Jacques Delabie, Frédéric Azemar, Bruno Corbara, et al.. Biotic and abiotic determinants of the formation of ant mosaics in primary Neotropical rainforests. Ecological Entomology, Wiley, 2019, 44 (4), pp.560-570. ⟨10.1111/een.12735⟩. ⟨hal-02338140⟩

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