The Effects of the Conversion of a Primary to a Secondary Tropical Lowland Forest on Bullet ant (Paraponera clavata) Foraging Behavior in Costa Rica: A Possible Indicator of Ecosystem Condition

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The use of bioindicators of habitat condition can help to better understand the effects of tropical forest degradation and the efficacy of strategies used in the restoration of these lands. The differences in feeding behavior of the ponerine ant Paraponera clavata may serve as such an indicator. The findings from the current study showed that P. clavata in an undisturbed primary forest returned to the nest with prey, nectar, and plant materials, while none of the ants within a 14 year old regenerating secondary forest returned with prey or nectar, few with plant materials, and most of the returns were unsuccessful in their foraging. This suggests a difference in P. clavata feeding behavior and/or food selection is occurring in the disturbed habitat; that P. clavata from the primary forest nest examined in the current study are feeding at a higher trophic level; and that the ants in the primary forest appeared to be more successful and efficient foragers than those in the secondary forest. Future studies should involve more comparisons of P. clavata foraging behavior in secondary to primary forests to determine if the patterns described in this current study are consistent with disturbance in these tropical forests in order to evaluate the possibility of this use of P. clavata as a valuable tool for bioindicators of habitat damage. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

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Journal of Insect Behavior

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