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The diversity of litter ant assemblages in evergreen, deciduous and Shola evergreen (Shola) forest vegetation types of the Wayanad region of the Western Ghats was assessed employing conventional and taxonomic diversity indices. Non-dependence on quantitative data and the ability to relate the phylogenetic structure of assemblages with ecological conditions of the habitat, and to ascertain priorities for conservation of habitats, makes non-parametric taxonomic diversity measures, such as variation in taxonomic distinctness Λ; and average taxonomic distinctness Δ, highly useful tools for assessment of litter ant biodiversity.
Although Δ values saturated leading to closer values for the 3 litter ant assemblages, Λ; proved to be a more dependable index. Evenness in taxonomic spread was high in ant assemblages in deciduous forests and low in evergreen forests compared to the regional master list. Low Λ; of ant assemblage in deciduous forests indicates that among the 3 forest vegetation types, deciduous forests provided the most favorable habitat conditions for litter ants. Low evenness, as is indicated by Λ; in evergreen forests, was attributed to the presence of a group of taxonomically closely related ant assemblage more adapted to prevail in moist and wet ecological conditions.
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