Ants constitute a substantial part of the arthropod biomass in rainforests. Most studies have focused on ground-dwelling ants, which constitute almost half of the diversity of the ant assemblage. We report here the results of the first survey of tree-dwelling ants in French Guiana on a plateau and in a swamp palm forest (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) in the Mitaraka Mountains. We were interested in seeing the effect of topography and geographic distance on species richness and composition and to gather information on the species distribution on tree trunks. The fauna of Mitaraka was compared with one from a site 350 km distant (Petit Saut). In total 105 trees were sampled (30, 30, 45 in the plateau and the swamp forests of Mitaraka, and in Petit Saut plateau forest, respectively). Arboreal ants were attracted using tuna and honey baits spread along a rope reaching an upper branch, except for the palm swamp forest where the baits were only placed at 2 m high. A total of 34, 13 and 22 species were observed in these three respective sites. Six of these species are new records for French Guiana. In Mitaraka Camponotus femoratus (Fabricius, 1804) and Crematogaster levior Longino, 2003 co-occurred on trees (parabiotic association) and were among the most common species, along with Crematogaster tenuicula Forel, 1904 which was found on other trees (species exclusion). The Mitaraka Mountains appeared more species rich and had a species composition distinct from Petit Saut. Topography also influenced ant species composition. Almost half of the species collected by the baitline method were exclusively foraging in the canopy.
Biodiversity, tropical lowland rainforests, Amazonia, arboreal baitline method, Our Planet Reviewed, new records.