SÁNCHEZ RESTREPO AndrÉs Fernando
Distribution and diversity of leaf-cutting ants in Northeastern Argentina: species most associated with forest plantations
SÁNCHEZ-RESTREPO, ANDRÉS F.; JIMÉNEZ, NADIA L.; CONFALONIERI, VIVIANA A.; CALCATERRA, LUIS A.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PEST MANAGEMENT
TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD
Leaf-cutting ants (LCA) are considered one of the main herbivores and one of the most destructive pest insects of the Neotropics. Northeastern Argentina harbors the greatest species richness of these ants and in turn comprises the highest surface with forest plantations. Our aim was to establish which species of leaf-cutting ants are most commonly associated with forest plantations by analyzing their geographic distribution using published and unpublished species occurrence data. Also, estimate their potential areas of distribution along a latitudinal gradient that entirely encompasses northeastern Argentina using Ecological Niche Modeling. Only seven of the 20 species recorded were strongly associated with productive systems along the gradient, but only 2?3 species in each region could be considered high-risk species for forest plantations. High-risk species composition shows a turnover between regions. Our models show the potential distribution areas where LCA could become more abundant and dominant, and possibly causing a detrimental effect on the forest plantations in the studied region. We find that ecological niche models are useful tools to assess the environmental suitability of important LCA.