Ants response to mining prospection disturbances across vegetation zones in tropical mountain chains of Mount Nimba, Guinea, West Africa
Even though ants have been successfully used as biological indicators of mine site rehabilitation, studies focused on these insects during the early mining prospecting activities are rare. We conducted a snapshot study with the aim to provide data on possible rehabilitation success in mining sites after disturbances using ant as biological indicators. In this sense, we compared ant richness and species composition across three distinct vegetation zones (Highland meadows, transition savannahs and altitudinal forests) at six mining prospecting sites (Mining Area) and compared them with those of six nearby without mining activities (World heritage Site), all located in the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve. Ants were sampled using pitfall traps and tuna lures. A total of 119 ant species and morphospecies ranged from 95 species at World Heritage Site to 69 species genera were recorded. Ant richness and species composition did not differ significantly among Meadows and Savannah habitats of both study sites, while there was a significant difference among forest habitats. The comparison of weather and soil variables showed only a significant difference for soil pH among surveyed sites. We found that weather and soil variables did not play a significant role in the segregation of ant assemblage, thus, suggesting that the structure of vegetation result in changes of ant assemblage, and consequently, future restoration action should be focused on the protection and rehabilitation of native forest.
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Keywords: Ant communities, mining, rehabilitation, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve
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