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The large predatory ant, Paraponera clavata, exerts measurable top-down effects in wet and moist Neotropical forests, and therefore its distribution has potential ecological implications. To determine how water affects the presence of this important predator, the ground nesting ecology of P. clavata was examined with respect to various habitat characteristics. Four hectares of disturbed Costa Rican lowland rain forest were surveyed for ant colonies to determine nest distribution patterns in wet and dry habitat; significantly more colonies were found in dry habitat. Seventeen of 19 nests built on slopes of > 5° inclination were positioned on the downward side of the tree, possibly using the trunk as a shield against runoff during rain showers. Moisture and pH inside nests were significantly different from adjacent soil. These results suggest that water influences the ground nesting habits of P. clavata, thus ecological differences between comparatively wet and dry portions of tropical forests may arise from the relative abundance of this ant species.
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