Parasitoids of the endangered leafcutter ant Atta robusta Borgmeier in urban and natural areas. Hosts of parasitoids in urban areas may suffer from a double threat of habitat destruction by urbanization and parasitism pressure. Moreover, the parasitoids themselves might be at risk if they are specialists. Here, we studied whether Atta robusta (Hymenoptera, Formicidae), which is on the red list of Brazilian threatened species, suffers from higher parasitism pressure in an urban area compared to a natural one. In addition, we determined whether their specialist parasitoids, Eibesfeldtphora breviloba and Myrmosicarius exrobusta (Diptera, Phoridae), are in risk and evaluated whether they are influenced by habitat structure, temperature, humidity, ant traffic, and time of the day. The study was carried out in an urban park and in a natural protected area in the city of Rio de Janeiro. In each site we chose an open area and a closed area (forest) and sampled nine nests in each area. We found that parasitism pressure was similar in urban and natural areas, with the same two parasitoid species present in both areas. The main difference was related to habitat structure, since M. exrobusta was mainly present in open areas while E. breviloba was almost exclusively found in closed areas. Myrmosicarius exrobusta was not present during the hottest midday times, and its abundance was negatively correlated to vapor pressure deficit. These results suggest that green areas can be an important component in efforts to conserve diversity in urban areas. However, the complexity of the habitats in those areas is a fundamental issue in designing urban parks.
O estudo objetivou avaliar a resposta da assembleia de formigas que nidificam na interface solo-serapilheira a um gradiente de alteração ambiental. O estudo foi realizado em três ambientes com diferentes usos do solo: fragmento florestal, sistema agroflorestal (SAF) e pastagem situados em região de domínio da mata atlântica no sudeste do Brasil. Em cada ambiente foram demarcadas 10 parcelas de 1 m² e todos os ninhos de formigas encontrados foram registrados. Foram encontrados 215 ninhos (103 no fragmento florestal, 64 no sistema agroflorestal e 48 na pastagem), de 31 espécies. O número acumulado de espécies foi maior no fragmento florestal que na pastagem, mas não diferiu do SAF. A composição de espécies foi diferente entre o fragmento florestal e os outros dois ambientes. A riqueza média de espécies de formigas por parcela foi maior no fragmento florestal e menor na pastagem. A quantidade de serapilheira não foi um fator importante para as diferenças na riqueza de espécies. Atividades humanas que reduzam a heterogeneidade da vegetação alteram a composição e diminuem a riqueza de espécies das assembleias de formigas.
The present study aimed at assessing the response of the assemblage of ants that nest in the soil-litter interface to a gradient of environmental change. Fieldwork was carried out in three environments under different land use regimes: a forest fragment, an agroforestry system (AFS), and a pasture, all located within the Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil. In each environment we marked ten 1-m² plots and recorded all ant nests found within them. We recorded 215 nests (103 in the forest, 64 in the AFS, and 48 in the pasture) of 31 species. The cumulative number of species was higher in the forest than in the pasture; the forest and the AFS differed from the pasture, but did not differ from each other. Species composition differed between the forest and the other two environments. The average species richness was high in the forest and low in the pasture. The amount of litter did not explain the differences in species richness among environments. Human activities that reduce vegetation heterogeneity change the composition and reduce the richness of the ant assemblage.