Food preference of giant anteater and collared anteater (Pilosa, Myrmecophagidae) regarding the termite defense strategies

Authors

  • Hélida Ferreira da Cunha Universidade Estadual de Goiás
  • Tiago Fernandes Carrijo Universidade de São Paulo https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6308-7252
  • Anna Carolina Prestes Universidade de Brasília
  • Lucas Souza Arruda Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco
  • Pollyane Barbosa Rezende Secretaria Municipal de Meio Ambiente
  • Thiago Santos Universidade Federal de Goiás
  • Divino Brandão Universidade Federal de Goiás

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.14393/BJ-v31n1a2015-23360

Keywords:

Isoptera. Ants. Cerrado. Zoo. Stomach contents

Abstract

Giant (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) and collared anteaters (Tamandua tetradactyla) are common mammals in the Cerrado biome. They are specialized in eating termites (Isoptera, Blattaria) and ants (Formicidae, Hymenoptera). This study tested the preference of the giant anteater for termites with different defense strategies: 1) soldier with chemical defense and a soft nest (Nasutitermes), and 2) soldier with mixed defenses - chemical and mechanical - and a hard nest (Cornitermes). Pieces of nests of both genera of termites were provided to captive giant anteaters, their behaviors were observed, and the time spent feeding in each termite nests was recorded. The anteaters exploited both termite species, although no significance difference was found, they spent more time feeding on Cornitermes than on Nasutitermes. The stomach contents of one road-killed giant anteater and one collared anteater were analyzed. The collared anteater fed on a wider diversity of termite species with different defense strategies, but showed a preference for Cornitermes. We argue that the preference of anteaters for a termite species that has a harder nest, and soldiers with mixed defense, may be due to the presence of terpenoids in the chemical apparatus of Nasutitermes, absent in Cornitermes. Also, the much higher proportion of soldiers in Nasutitermes may influence the anteaters' choice.

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Published

2015-01-06

How to Cite

CUNHA, H.F. da, CARRIJO, T.F., PRESTES, A.C., ARRUDA, L.S., REZENDE, P.B., SANTOS, T. and BRANDÃO, D., 2015. Food preference of giant anteater and collared anteater (Pilosa, Myrmecophagidae) regarding the termite defense strategies . Bioscience Journal [online], vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 234–241. [Accessed30 November 2022]. DOI 10.14393/BJ-v31n1a2015-23360. Available from: https://seer.ufu.br/index.php/biosciencejournal/article/view/23360.

Issue

Section

Biological Sciences