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Brazilian Journal of Biology

versión impresa ISSN 1519-6984


BARBOSA, BC. et al. Evidences that human disturbance simplify the ant fauna associated a Stachytarpheta glabra Cham. (Verbenaceae) compromising the benefits of ant-plant mutualism. Braz. J. Biol. [online]. 2015, vol.75, n.1, pp.58-68. ISSN 1519-6984.

Interaction among species, like ants and plants through extrafloral nectaries (EFNs), are important components of ecological communities’ evolution. However, the effect of human disturbance on such specific interactions and its ecological consequences is poorly understood. This study evaluated the outcomes of mutualism between ants and the EFN-bearing plant Stachytarpheta glabra under anthropogenic disturbance. We compared the arthropod fauna composition between two groups of twenty plant individuals, one in an area disturbed by human activities and one in a preserved area. We also check the plant investment in herbivory defense and the consequential leaf damage by herbivore. Our results indicate that such disturbances cause simplification of the associated fauna and lack of proper ant mutualist. This led to four times more herbivory on plants of disturbed areas, despite the equal amount of EFN and ant visitors and low abundance of herbivores. The high pressure of herbivory may difficult the re-establishment of S. glabra, an important pioneer species in ferruginous fields, therefore it may affect resilience of this fragile ecological community.

Palabras clave : arthropods; environmental conservation; Myrmecophily; rupestrian fields; Stachytarpheta glabra.

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