Ants as Indicators of the Success of Rehabilitation Efforts in Deposits of Gold Mining Tailings

Authors

  • Carla R. Ribas,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departamento de Biologia Geral, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, MG 36570-000, Brazil
    2. Current address: Laboratory of Ant Ecology, Setor de Ecologia, Departamento de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Lavras, Lavras, MG 37200-000, Brazil
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  • Fernando A. Schmidt,

    1. Departamento de Biologia Animal—Programa de Pós-Graduação em Entomologia, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, MG 36570-000, Brazil
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  • Ricardo R. C. Solar,

    1. Departamento de Biologia Animal—Programa de Pós-Graduação em Entomologia, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, MG 36570-000, Brazil
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  • Renata B. F. Campos,

    1. Instituto Superior de Educação de Divinópolis, Fundação Educacional de Divinópolis, Av. Paraná, 3001-Jardim Belvedere, Divinópolis, MG 35501-170, Brazil
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  • Clarisse L. Valentim,

    1. Departamento de Biologia Animal—Programa de Pós-Graduação em Entomologia, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, MG 36570-000, Brazil
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  • José H. Schoereder

    1. Departamento de Biologia Geral, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, MG 36570-000, Brazil
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C. R. Ribas, email crribas@gmail.com

Abstract

The evaluation of the success of restoration efforts is an essential step for environmental monitoring programs, providing reliable and intricate information on the response of biotic and abiotic elements of ecosystem following the restoration programs adopted. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of different rehabilitation efforts after gold mining activities using ants as bioindicators. We tested the following hypotheses: (1) the ant species richness and composition vary with the technique of revegetation and (2) the number of epigaeic and hypogaeic ant species increases with resources. We selected four tailing dumps from gold mining, one spontaneously revegetated (“Natural”) and the other three areas with different rehabilitation techniques, namely: Grassy 2005—rehabilitation with grasses in 2005; Grassy 2006—rehabilitation with grasses in 2006, and Shrubby 2004—rehabilitation with grasses, herbaceous, and shrubs in 2004. Ants were sampled using epigaeic and hypogaeic pitfall traps. Species accumulation curves show that the “Natural” area has a higher number of species. We found differences in species composition of epigaeic and hypogaeic ants among the different areas sampled. We conclude that Camponotus fastigatus can be taken as a good indicator of environmental rehabilitation in areas impacted by mining activities. Moreover, Ectatomma edentatum, Dorymyrmex brunneus, Crematogaster evallans, and Solenopsis invicta can also indicate that the rehabilitation process is not yet completed.

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