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|Type:||Artigo de periódico|
|Title:||Do Abandoned Nests Of Leaf-cutting Ants Enhance Plant Recruitment In The Atlantic Forest?|
|Abstract:||The role played by abandoned nests of leaf-cutting ants (Atta spp.) as a small-scale disturbance regime that affects plant recruitment, species coexistence and forest regeneration remains poorly investigated. Here we examine whether abandoned nests of Atta cephalotes serve as regeneration niches and operate as particular plant recruitment habitats, favouring forest regeneration after ant activities cease and leading to the establishment of taxonomically/ecologically distinct plant assemblages. Soil properties, canopy openness, light availability and regenerating plant assemblages were evaluated across 18 nests and adjacent control plots in a large remnant of Atlantic Forest in north-east Brazil from December 2004 to December 2005. Surprisingly, nests and control plots exhibited very similar light environments irrespective of nest age, but nest soils exhibited substantial reductions in carbon content (1.45±0.24 vs. 1.79±0.13%) and organic matter (2.50±0.41 vs. 3.08±0.23%), and proved to be much more resistant to penetration (30.57±6.08 vs. 39.48±7.53mm). Functional signature of regenerating plant assemblages exhibited little variation across both habitat types, as they were dominated by pioneer, small-seeded and vertebrate-dispersed species. However, abandoned nests exhibited less dense, impoverished and more homogeneous regenerating plant assemblages at local and landscape scale; they clearly lacked nest-dependent plant species and represented floristic subsets of the flora inhabiting the undisturbed forest. This recruitment bottleneck was transient in the long term because nest-related effects ameliorated in older nests. Our results suggest that, unlike treefall gaps, abandoned nests represent temporary (relatively long-lasting) islands of unsuitable substrate that reduce plant recruitment, retard forest regeneration, and fail in providing a special regeneration niche able to promote species coexistence and plant diversity. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 Ecological Society of Australia.|
|Appears in Collections:||Unicamp - Artigos e Outros Documentos|
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