African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6693

Full Length Research Paper

The role of ants and mammalian herbivores on the structure and composition of insect communities found on canopies of Acacia drepanolobium

S. K. Kuria1* and M. H. Villet2
Department of Biological Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, P/B X1 Mthatha 5117, South Africa.   2Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 04 June 2012
  •  Published: 02 October 2012



Acacia drepanolobium Sjøstedt (Fabaceae) constitutes about 99% of the woody vegetation in the cotton soil ecosystem of Laikipia, Kenya. The tree has symbiotic association with four ant species that discourage large mammalian herbivores from feeding on it. However, there is no information as to whether these ants affect the community of canopy insects. Therefore, this study investigated the effect of the four ant species and differential vertebrate grazing and browsing pressures on the insect community inhabiting canopies of A.drepanolobium trees. Insect samples were collected using standard fogging and beating methods and identified to family and morphospecies. At the morphospecies level, the insect communities separated into two distinct groups, one comprised of samples collected from trees occupied by Crematogaster mimosae andCrematogaster nigriceps, and the other of samples obtained from trees inhabited by Csjostedti andTetraponera penzigi. However, differential vertebrate grazing and browsing patterns did not show any significant effect on the insect community occupying canopies of Adrepanolobium.


Key words: Community structure, coexistence, diversity, herbivory, Mpala, Kenya.