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Asian Myrmecology, Volume 7, pages 57-71, published August 2015

Influence of leaf litter composition on ant assemblages in a lowland tropical rainforest in Thailand

WATANA SAKCHOOWONG1 *, SASITORN HASIN2,3, NONGPHANGA PACHEY1, WEERAWAN AMORNSAK4, SARAYUDH BUNYAVEJCHEWIN1, PITOON KONGNOO5 & YVES BASSET6

1Forest and Plant Conservation Research Office, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, 61 Phaholyothin Road, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand

2 Department of Forest Biology, Faculty of Forestry, Kasetsart University, 50 Ngam Wong Wan Road, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand

3 Center for Advanced Studies in Tropical Natural Resources, NRU-KU, Kasetsart University, Bangkok 10900, Thailand

4 Department of Entomology, Faculty of Agriculture, Kasetsart University, 50 Ngam Wong Wan Road, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand

5 Center for Tropical Forest Science, Khao Chong Botanical Garden, Tambon Chong, Nayong District, Trang 92170, Thailand

6 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 0843-03092, Balboa, Ancon, Panama City, Republic of Panama

DOI: 10.20362/am.007007

© W. Sakchoowong, S. Hasin, N. Pachey, W. Amornsak, S. Bunyavejchewin, P. Kongnoo & Y. Basset

Abstract: In tropical rainforests, variability in the distribution of soil and litter arthropods is usually explained at regional scales by altitude, soil nutrients, and disturbance regimes. However, the influence of these factors on insect assemblages at the micro-habitat scale has rarely been studied. We investigated whether the species identity of decomposing leaves in tropical forest affected the composition of ant assemblages around them. Ants were extracted from litter below three common tree species, Parashorea stellata (Dipterocarpaceae), Intsia palembanica (Fabaceae) and Shorea gratissima (Dipterocarpaceae) in a 24 ha lowland rainforest plot in southern Thailand. A total of 2,257 individual ants, representing 71 species in 38 genera of 6 subfamilies were collected in the dry and wet seasons during 2010. Ant species richness was never significantly different among litter samples under the crown cover of three tree species. Ant species richness was higher in the wet season than the dry season. Our results demonstrate that ant assemblages are seasonally heterogeneous. Leaf mass and litter mass did not relate to the presence of ant diversity. Soil humidity was the only important factor influencing ant diversity in this study. Future studies should consider the importance of soil moisture related to litter ant diversity.

Keywords: ant assemblages, indicator species, leaf litter, microhabitat, southern Thailand, spatial ecology, tropical rainforest.

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