22 May, 2013

Microhabitat use in two co-existing buthids in Brazil

Andre Lira and co-workers have recently published an interesting study of the population structure of two scorpion species, Ananteris mauryi Lourenco,1982 and Tityus pusillus Pocock, 1893 (Buthidae), which are widely distributed in fragments of the northeast Atlantic Forest in Brazil. The focus of the study was micro-habitat preference, intra- and interspecific coexistence and aspects of behavior.

With the increasing devastation of the tropical rain forest, there is a critical need to understand howanimal forest communities are structured and how habitat degradation will affect these communities.We conducted a field survey to investigate the microhabitat preferences of two co-occurring species of scorpions (Tityus pusillus and Ananteris mauryi) in a fragment of Atlantic rainforest, as well as their abundance and their ecological niche, during both the dry and rainy seasons. Behavioural aspects related to theuse of the environment and the proportions of juveniles and adults are also described. The occurrence of intra- and interspecific coexistence was assessed by active search. In addition, pitfall catches were used to assess the structure of the population in the dry and rainy seasons. The differential patterns of spatial distribution in the litter layers provided evidence of partial niche partitioning between the two coexisting scorpion species depending on age and climatic conditions. Abundance, foraging behaviour and age structure (juveniles and adults) were seasonally influenced. We conclude that the diverse and subtle behaviours involved in interaction and habitat use may facilitate species coexistence. Resourcepartitioning and refuge sharing on a temporal and/or spatial scale, as well as predation pressure, may drive the dynamics and spatial distribution of scorpion species in the rain forest environment.

Lira AFA, Souza AM, Silva Filho AAC et al. Spatio-temporal microhabitat use by two co-occurring species of scorpions in Atlantic rainforest in Brazil. Zoology 2013; In Press, Corrected Proof. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to Andre Lira for sending me a copy of his paper!

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