Parasitoids of the endangered leafcutter ant Atta robusta Borgmeier in urban and natural areas
GOMES, DIEGO S.; ELIZALDE, LUCIANA; QUEIROZ, JARBAS M
REVISTA BRASILEIRA DE ENTOMOLOGIA
SOC BRASILEIRA ENTOMOLOGIA
Año: 2013 vol. 57 p. 335 - 339
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.