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Foraging preference of Atta sexdens (Linnaeus, 1758) (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) by tree species indicated for forest restoration

Grant number: 20/07739-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2020
Effective date (End): October 31, 2021
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Forestry Resources and Forestry Engineering - Nature Conservation
Principal Investigator:Ricardo Toshio Fujihara
Grantee:Mateus Banderchuk Dib
Host Institution: Centro de Ciências Agrárias (CCA). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). Araras , SP, Brazil


The degradation of Brazilian biomes has threatened biodiversity conservation and the generation of ecosystem services. One way to minimize this process is through forest restoration. However, although the leaf-cutting ants participate in important ecological processes, their high density can compromise the balance of an area under restoration. Therefore, we evaluated the hypothesis that exists foraging preference of Atta sexdens by tree species indicated for forest restoration. We will select 15 species considered as cover tree (fast growth and dense and ample crown, which benefit shading), whose apical segments (stem, leaves, or leaflets) will be collected in restoration areas located at CCA/UFSCar, Araras, SP. The bioassays will be performed in the laboratory, where the discs of leaf/leaflets (Ø = 0.5 cm) will be offered, in a foraging arena, simultaneously and equidistant to the colonies of A. sexdens. At the end of each assay, the number of leaf/leaflets discs transported to the fungus chamber will be evaluated. The design will consist of 15 treatments (tree species), offered to five different colonies (repetitions), with four presentations per colony. The Scott-Knott test will be applied at 5% probability. Of the 15 species, those that show a significant difference regarding the minor and major preference will be selected, besides a control treatment with A. wilkesiana. The bromatological composition of the leaves will be evaluated and utilized as an additional predictor for the analysis of preference by A.sexdens. The variables (contents) obtained will be used in a multiple linear regression test, where A. wilkesiana will be the standard plant species. The control of leaf-cutting ants is carried out mainly using granulated baits containing sulfluramide, a method that can generate environmental and health problems. Our results can serve as a complementary criterion for the selection of species aimed at forest restoration, to reduce and / or eliminate the use of chemical control.

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