Direct and indirect effects of soil structure on the density of an antlion larva in a tropical dry forest

Alejandro G. Farji-Brener, Dorian Carvajal, María Gabriela Gei, Juanita Olano, Juan David Sánchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


1. We used structural equation models to discriminate direct and indirect effects of soil structure on the abundance of the antlion Myrmeleon crudelis, a neuropteran larva that digs conical pits in soil to capture small arthropods. We proposed that soil structure may modify antlion density indirectly through its influence on tree cover, which in turn directly alters the amount of sun and rain that can reach the forest floor and the amount of litter fall. 2. The proportion of finer soils positively affected antlion density directly, but negatively tree cover. Tree cover positively affected both the amount of leaf litter and antlion density. Leaf litter negatively affected antlion density. The indirect effects of soils varied in strength and sign depending on whether trees are considered shelters against sun and rain, or leaf litter sources. The relative importance of these effects might also vary between years and seasons. 3. Antlions may select patches of finer soils not only because they are easy substrates in which to build pits, but also for their indirect benefit as sites with low leaf litter, illustrating how indirect interactions may affect the local abundance of semi-sedentary insects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-188
Number of pages6
JournalEcological Entomology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008


  • Abiotic factors
  • Costa Rica
  • Habitat selection
  • Indirect interactions
  • Myrmeleon crudelis
  • Path analysis
  • Structural equation model

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