The Camponotus Mayr genus of carpenter ants is one of the largest in species number and widely represented in the Neotropical Region. Most species are generalists and capable of exploiting diverse habitats including urban environments. Urban green areas can act as a repository of regional biodiversity, thus we investigated whether this is valid for the largest city in South America. We compared the richness of Camponotus spp. in two green areas in regions with distinct urbanization profiles and also with previous surveys made in smaller cities and in natural areas of the original Atlantic Forest. Besides the usual capture of worker specimens, we included capture of alates to improve the species richness sampling. Morphological identification of Camponotus spp. is challenging, even more when alates are included. To assist in specimen identification, we performed DNA sequencing of mitochondrial and nuclear markers. The richness observed in the less stressed urban area was higher than in the more stressed one. Camponotus spp. reported in natural areas are largely represented in the urban area. DNA sequencing for specimen identification is hampered by the lack of corresponding sequences in the GenBank, but it helped to associate workers and alates of the same species and indicated the existence of cryptic species in the genus. Capture of alates allowed detection of several species for which workers were not sampled; therefore, it is a valuable tool for surveying diversity of Camponotus or other ant taxa with arboreal or hypogeic habits.
Neotropical Entomology – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 9, 2017
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