Association of birds with social insects: a summary in Southeastern Brazil

Ivan Sazima Giulia B. D'Angelo About the authors


Birds may aggregate with various kinds of social insects (ants, wasps, termites). These associations may be grouped in three types, one of them related to feeding activity and the other two, to breeding activity: 1) foraging with army ants; 2) nesting close to active wasp or ant colonies; 3) nesting in active termitaria. These three association types are examples of commensalism. Herein we summarise associations of birds with social insects that we recorded in South-eastern Brazil. Following army ants was usual to rare for a great variety of bird species, from the Accipitridae to Tyrannidae. Nesting close to active wasp colonies was usual for a species of the Rhynchocyclidae. Nesting in active arboreal termitaria was usual for two species of the Trogonidae and rare for two species of the Psittacidae. Nesting in active ground termitaria was rare for a species of the Picidae and a species of the Strigidae. However, regional qualitative and quantitative variations probably occur, which would merit this study type across habitats and regions distinct from those we studied. Natural history-oriented studies will likely disclose a greater species richness and variety of birds that associate with active colonies of social insects.

Foraging; army ants; nesting; wasp colonies; termitaria

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