pp 1–13 | Cite as

Habitats shape taxonomic and functional composition of Neotropical ant assemblages

  • Mélanie FichauxEmail author
  • Benoît Béchade
  • Julian Donald
  • Arthur Weyna
  • Jacques Hubert Charles Delabie
  • Jérôme Murienne
  • Christopher Baraloto
  • Jérôme Orivel
Community ecology – original research


Determining assembly rules of co-occurring species persists as a fundamental goal in community ecology. At local scales, the relative importance of environmental filtering vs. competitive exclusion remains a subject of debate. In this study, we assessed the relative importance of habitat filtering and competition in structuring understory ant communities in tropical forests of French Guiana. Leaf-litter ants were collected using pitfall and Winkler traps across swamp, slope and plateau forests near Saül, French Guiana. We used a combination of univariate and multivariate analyses to evaluate trait response of ants to habitat characteristics. Null model analyses were used to investigate the effects of habitat filtering and competitive interactions on community assembly at the scale of assemblages and sampling points, respectively. Swamp forests presented a much lower taxonomic and functional richness compared to slope and plateau forests. Furthermore, marked differences in taxonomic and functional composition were observed between swamp forests and slope or plateau forests. We found weak evidence for competitive exclusion based on null models. Nevertheless, the contrasting trait composition observed between habitats revealed differences in the ecological attributes of the species in the different forest habitats. Our analyses suggest that competitive interactions may not play an important role in structuring leaf-litter ant assemblages locally. Rather, habitats are responsible for driving both taxonomic and functional composition of ant communities.


Formicidae Traits Functional diversity Habitat filtering Rainforest 



Financial support for this study was provided by an Investissement d’Avenir grant of the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (CEBA: ANR-10-LABX-25-01) through a PhD fellowship to MF and the funding of the DIADEMA project (Dissecting Amazonian Diversity by Enhancing a Multiple taxonomic-groups approach), by the Programme Convergence 2007–2013, Région Guyane from the European community (BREGA, 757/2014/SGAR/DE/BSF) and by the PO-FEDER 2014-2020 Région Guyane (BING, GY0007194). JHCD acknowledges his research grant from CNPq.

Author contribution statement

JO and CB designed protocol and methodology. JO and JD carried out the field sampling. MF and JD sorted specimen to morphospecies and JHCD supervised species identifications. JM performed the molecular analyses. BB and AW performed the morphological measurements. MF analysed the data and wrote the manuscript, with comments from all authors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mélanie Fichaux
    • 1
    Email author
  • Benoît Béchade
    • 1
  • Julian Donald
    • 1
    • 2
  • Arthur Weyna
    • 1
  • Jacques Hubert Charles Delabie
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jérôme Murienne
    • 2
  • Christopher Baraloto
    • 5
  • Jérôme Orivel
    • 1
  1. 1.CNRS, UMR Ecologie des Forêts de Guyane (EcoFoG), AgroParisTech, CIRAD, INRAUniversité de Guyane, Université des Antilles, Campus AgronomiqueKourou CedexFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire EDB (UMR 5174: CNRS, Université Toulouse 3 Paul Sabatier, IRD)Université Paul SabatierToulouse Cedex 9France
  3. 3.Laboratório de MirmecologiaCEPEC, CEPLACItabunaBrazil
  4. 4.Departamento de Ciências Agrárias e AmbientaisUniversidade Estadual de Santa CruzIlheusBrazil
  5. 5.International Center for Tropical Botany, Department of Biological SciencesFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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