Similarly to katydids, ants living in the litter of leaves on the forest floor are used as indicators in biodiversity studies. This is possible because they are ecologically dominant in most terrestrial ecosystems, easily and quickly sampled in statistically significant numbers, and are very sensitive to environmental change.
The ant diversity of Guyana is not well known. Previous studies suggest a rich ant presence of over 350 species, but this is likely vastly underestimated. New world tropics, namely Central and South America, possess some of the richest ant faunas in the world.
IN PHOTOS: See a photo gallery of Konashen’s invertebrates.
Ants were found by hand collection in leaf litter, rotten logs, fallen trees and vegetation and by using maxi-Winkler litter extractors. With a maxi-Winkler extractor, leaf and wood litter is suspended in mesh bags until the insects are filtered out.
Due to the large abundance of ants found, several years is necessary to fully sort and identify all the species. Thirty-four ant genera were found representing nine subfamilies. It is estimated that over 200 species were recorded during the survey.
DOWNLOAD: A Rapid Biological Assessment of the Konashen Community Owned Conservation Area, Southern Guyana, October 2006 Report (PDF - 3.67 MB)
One species is likely new to science, a leaf-cutting Trachymyrmex. Another genus, Mycetarotes, was recorded for the first time outside of the Amazon basin. This is a surprising and significant extension of the range of this fungus-growing genus.
What it Means
Based on the ant fauna, both sites are minimally impacted by humans. There was no evidence that activities like hunting, fishing, logging, or mining had any noticeable effects on the local ants. Additionally, no invasive ant species were found, which would be a common finding in human-disturbed habitats.
| Ant Team | Dung Beetle Team | Katydid Team | Fish Team |
| Reptile and Amphibian Team | Bird Team | Mammal Team |