The effect of forest fragments on abundance, diversity and species composition of predatory ants in sugarcane fields
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Habitat loss and fragmentation have gradually caused loss of diversity and consequently the decline of ecological services. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of tropical forest fragments as natural habitats (river valley fragments and plateau fragments) on the community of predatory and omnivorous ants in nearby sugarcane fields. Twenty fields adjacent to these fragments were selected and evaluated one (dry season) and four months (rainy season) after harvest. In each field, ants were sampled in five linear plots (10 m inside the fragment, 0 m (field path between field and fragment), 5 m, 50 m and 100 m inside the crop fields). Each plot comprised ten sardine baits in a row parallel to the field edge. Species richness and frequency of ant species decreased with increasing distance from the forest fragments. Inside fields, species richness and frequency were higher during the period of vegetative growth (rainy season) than after harvest (dry season). Ant communities of sugarcane fields and forest fragments were more similar later in the season than directly after sugarcane harvest suggesting recolonization of the fields from the fragments. Several ant species were limited to forest fragments after harvest but occurred later in the season also in sugarcane fields confirming the potential contribution of fragments to the recolonization process and therefore to biological control of sugarcane-dominated pest insects. (C) 2018 Gesellschaft fur Okologie. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.