Winged Ants in the city of São Paulo, Brazil: analysis of the mating flight
In the ants colonies of most species, the mating flight is carried out once or several times during the year, depending on the reproductive strategy and the environmental characteristics. Winged females and males ants, after leaving the nest, are subject to dangers posed by adverse climatic conditions and predators. Therefore, the species of ants have developed, in the course of their evolution, different mating flight strategies to avoid these dangers and synchronize flight with other colonies, so that individuals of the opposite sex have greater opportunity to meet. The process of urbanization fragment, degrade and isolates natural areas, depending on the density and urban and economic development form, by generating different profiles of urban landscapes. The objective of this study is to understand whether the environmental conditions, generated by different urbanization profiles, influence the mating flight of ants. Winged ants were captured daily over a two year period at two urban sites in the city of São Paulo, using light traps. Approximately 113,000 individuals were captured and assigned to eight subfamilies and 44 genera. At São Paulo city, in January, I recorded the largest number of ant genera in mating flight, probably associated with the maximum mean temperature values and the rainfall. The periodicity analysis of mating flight at subfamily and genera level shows different patterns between the two urban sites. I hypothesize that the trophic structure of ant communities reflects the dynamics of the trophic availability in different urban microhabitats showing, as a result, plasticity in the mating flight periodicity.