On-line version ISSN 2071-0771
SCHOEMAN, Colin S. and FOORD, Stefan H.. A checklist of epigaeic ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from the Marakele National Park, Limpopo, South Africa. Koedoe [online]. 2012, vol.54, n.1, pp. 1-7. ISSN 2071-0771.
Ant surveys are extensively used to guide conservation decisions and form part of a 'shopping basket' of invertebrate taxa proposed for the use in monitoring programmes in South Africa's national parks. However, very few ant inventories exist for these conservation areas. We report on the first quantitative survey of ants in the Marakele National Park (67 000 ha). Ants were sampled in four habitats, covering both the altitudinal range (1000 m a.s.l. 2000 m a.s.l.) and three vegetation types in the park. A total of 4847 specimens, representing 29 genera and 104 species, were recorded from pitfall traps over a five-day period. Myrmicinae was the most abundant and diverse subfamily, representing 82% of all ants sampled, followed by the Formicinae subfamily, which represented 18% of the total abundance. The most abundant species were members of the Pheidole megacephala group, Pheidole sculpturata Mayr and members of the Monomorium salomonis group. In general, we found that the less complex habitats supported higher ant diversity. The Marakele National Park contains a quarter of the ant species recorded in South Africa and is a potential hotspot for invertebrate conservation. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The Marakele National Park represents an area of high ant and therefore invertebrate - diversity. Ant conservation would require attention to each of the vegetation types to maintain complementarity (beta diversity) of the assemblages as well as consideration to the impact of large herbivores, whose presence positively influence ant richness at a site (alpha diversity).