Ant Diversity Studies 2015
The number of contemporary publications that focus on ant communities and ant biodiversity shows that these topics continue to be strong areas of interest. This page is a place to begin to gather a list of publications, however incomplete, published about these topics.
- Bishop, T. R., M. P. Robertson, B. J. van Rensburg, and C. L. Parr. 2015. Contrasting species and functional beta diversity in montane ant assemblages. Journal of Biogeography. 42:1776-1786. doi:10.1111/jbi.12537
Aim: Beta diversity describes the variation in species composition between sites and can be used to infer why different species occupy different parts of the globe. It can be viewed in a number of ways. First, it can be partitioned into two distinct patterns: turnover and nestedness. Second, it can be investigated from either a species identity or a functional-trait point of view. We aim to document for the first time how these two aspects of beta diversity vary in response to a large environmental gradient. Location: Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains, southern Africa. Methods: We sampled ant assemblages along an extensive elevational gradient (900–3000 m a.s.l.) twice yearly for 7 years, and collected functional-trait information related to the species’ dietary and habitat-structure preferences. We used recently developed methods to partition species and functional beta diversity into their turnover and nestedness components. A series of null models were used to test whether the observed beta diversity patterns differed from random expectations. Results: Species beta diversity was driven by turnover, but functional beta diversity was composed of both turnover and nestedness patterns at different parts of the gradient. Null models revealed that deterministic processes were likely to be responsible for the species patterns but that the functional changes were indistinguishable from stochasticity. Main conclusions: Different ant species are found with increasing elevation, but they tend to represent an increasingly nested subset of the available functional strategies. This finding is unique and narrows down the list of possible factors that control ant existence across elevation. We conclude that diet and habitat preferences have little role in structuring ant assemblages in montane environments and that some other factor must be driving the non-random patterns of species turnover. This finding also highlights the importance of distinguishing between different kinds of beta diversity.
- Boucher, P., C. Hebert, A. Francoeur, and L. Sirois. 2015. Postfire Succession of Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Nesting in Dead Wood of Northern Boreal Forest. Environmental Entomology. 44:1316-1327. doi:10.1093/ee/nvv109
Abstract: Dead wood decomposition begins immediately after tree death and involves a large array of invertebrates. Ecological successions are still poorly known for saproxylic organisms, particularly in boreal forests. We investigated the use of dead wood as nesting sites for ants along a 60-yr postfire chronosequence in northeastern coniferous forests. We sampled a total of 1,625 pieces of dead wood, in which 263 ant nests were found. Overall, ant abundance increased during the first 30 yr after wildfire, and then declined. Leptothorax cf. canadensis, the most abundant species in our study, was absent during the first 2 yr postfire, but increased steadily until 30 yr after fire, whereas Myrmica alaskensis, second in abundance, was found at all stages of succession in the chronosequence. Six other species were less frequently found, among which Camponotus herculeanus, Formica neorufibarbis, and Formica aserva were locally abundant, but more scarcely distributed. Dead wood lying on the ground and showing numerous woodborer holes had a higher probability of being colonized by ants. The C:N ratio was lower for dead wood colonized by ants than for noncolonized dead wood, showing that the continuous occupation of dead wood by ants influences the carbon and nitrogen dynamics of dead wood after wildfire in northern boreal forests.
- Camacho, G. P. and H. L. Vasconcelos. 2015. Ants of the Panga Ecological Station, a Cerrado Reserve in Central Brazil. Sociobiology. 62:281-295. doi:10.13102/sociobiology.v62i2.281-295
Abstract: Species lists are an invaluable tool for a more comprehensive analysis of diversity patterns. Such lists, when derived from a comprehensive sampling effort, can indicate the presence of rare, threatened, or ecologically important species. This study aimed to generate a species list of the ants of the Panga Ecological Station, a protected Cerrado reserve in southeastern Brazil. This list was generated through taxonomic identification or through unification of the morphospecies codes of all specimens collected at the reserve in ten different studies since 2003. Information about the types of habitat and strata of occurrence of each species or morphospecies was also compiled. The data presented here represents one of the most intensive ant inventories conducted in the Brazilian Cerrado. We recorded 277 ant species belonging to 58 genera and nine subfamilies. This number is 1.63 to 3.69 times higher than the number of species recorded in other Cerrado localities surveyed so far. More species were collected in the savanna (249 species) than in the forest habitats (108 species), and more species were collected on ground (226 species) than in arboreal vegetation (117 species). Taxonomic identification was possible for 171 of the 277 species collected. Three of the named species are recorded for the first time in Brazil. Among the 106 unidentified species, at least six of them represent new, undescribed species. Together, these results highlight the conservation potential of this Cerrado reserve.
- Campbell, H., M. D. E. Fellowes, and J. M. Cook. 2015. Species diversity and dominance-richness relationships for ground and arboreal ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) assemblages in Namibian desert, saltpan, and savannah. Myrmecol. News. 21:37-47.
Abstract: Namibia has high levels of invertebrate endemism, but biodiversity research has been geographically and taxonomically restricted. In South African savannah, species richness of ground-foraging ant assemblages is regulated by dominant ant species. However, this pattern has not been tested in other arid regions. In this study, we provide a description of ant diversity at baits in three different Namibian habitats (savannah, saltpan, and desert), and we test the relationship between ant dominance and richness for ground-foraging and arboreal species.
Forty-two ant species were collected in this study, with species richness being highest in the saltpan, followed by savannah and then desert. Due to shared arboreal species, ant assemblages were most similar between the savannah and desert,whereas similarity between savannah and saltpan ant assemblages was due to an overlap in ground-foraging species. Ground ants were more diverse than arboreal ants, and several species were observed at baits for both strata, although the degree of overlap varied with habitat type.
The dominance-richness relationship varied with habitat type and sampling strata. We found a unimodal relationship inthe saltpan but not in the savannah. In the desert, low ant abundance meant that we were unable to assign species dominance, possibly due to reduced foraging activity caused by high temperatures. For ground ants alone, the dominance-richness relationship was logarithmic, with increasing abundance of dominants leading to decreasing overall species richness. However, no trend was observed for the arboreal ant assemblage. The lack of a consistent trend across assemblages may be the result of varying degrees of environmental stress or competition. We hope that this preliminary description of diversity and dominance in Namibia stimulates further research on ant assemblages in other arid regions of the Afrotropics.
- Cantarelli, E. B., M. D. Fleck, F. Granzotto, J. D. N. Corassa, and M. d'Avila. 2015. Diversity of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of litter in different systems of soil use. Ciencia Florestal. 25:607-616.
ABSTRACT: Litter ant species found in four sites located in northwestern Rio Grande do Sul state were listed in this study to verify the impact of human activities conducted in rural areas. The method used for the collection of litter ants was the Winkler extractor. There were collected 6,300 specimens belonging to eight subfamilies, 18 tribes, 31 genera and 108 species. Native forest presented the highest richness observed with 90 species collected, followed by 65 eucalyptus species, and agriculture and pasture with 20 exotic species each. Margalef's diversity index was 11.21 for area with native forest, 8.37 for eucalypt, 3.48 for agriculture, and 2.71 in exotic pasture area. The Shannon's diversity indices obtained were 2.89, 3.15, 2.43 and 1.98 and equitability indices of 0.64, 0.75, 0.84 and 0.66 for areas with native forest, eucalyptus, agriculture and exotic pasture, respectively. The highest diversity index for the eucalypt area may be due to the age of the forest (28 years) and the fact that it has not been managed as well as due to the presence of understory of native species, forming a continuous canopy and thick litter layer. On the other hand, since the native forest has suffered human interventions, it has a lower Shannon's diversity index compared to the eucalypt area.
- da Conceiao, E. S., J. H. C. Delabie, T. M. C. Della Lucia, A. D. Costa-Neto, and J. D. Majer. 2015. Structural changes in arboreal ant assemblages (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in an age sequence of cocoa plantations in the south-east of Bahia, Brazil. Austral Entomology. 54:315-324. doi:10.1111/aen.12128
A study of succession of ant species in plantations of different ages and development may assist with our understanding of the dynamics of their assemblages. The aim of this study was to characterise the relationship between development of Brazilian cocoa plantations and the nature of their dominant ant assemblages. A chronosequence of cocoa plantations aged 1, 3, 4, 8, 15 and 33 years was sampled by several methodologies. Data were analysed in terms behavioural dominance and Berger-Parker's dominance index (here based on frequency data), and also by principal component analysis and analysis of co-occurrence. Apart from lower numbers of species being found in the 1-year-old plantation, there was no consistent trend in ant richness with plantation age. According to the criteria we adopted, only one species reached behavioural dominance in most age classes of plantation, although this increased to three in the 8-year-old one, before declining to zero in the oldest plantation. No species reached Berger-Parker's dominance in the youngest plantation, whereas all other age classes contained one to three dominants. Particular species showed non-age-related variations in their degree of Berger-Parker's dominance and this could in part be related to which species initially colonised the plantation. Principal component analysis axis 1 was partly related to plantation age, indicating an age-related change in assemblage composition. Ant species co-occurrence could only be effectively detected in cocoa plantations from 3 to 15 years of age. The arboreal ant assemblage is dynamic in nature, with the competitive hierarchy among species oscillating along the cocoa development chronosequence. The assemblage structure could be influenced by the initial founding ants, as well as by the invasive Monomorium floricola.
- Costa, F. V., R. Mello, T. C. Lana, and F. S. Neves. 2015. Ant fauna in megadiverse mountains: a checklist for the rocky grasslands. Sociobiology. 62:228-245. doi:10.13102/sociobiology.v62i2.228-245
Abstract: The rocky grasslands, environments locally known as campo rupestre, occur mainly along the Espinhaço Mountains and are considered local centers of biodiversity and endemism in Brazil. However, knowledge of ant species richness (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in this kind of environment is still poor. Aiming at filling this gap, we compiled information from empirical studies and literature records. We found a total of 288 species of 53 genera and eight subfamilies recorded in rocky grasslands. Myrmicinae and Formicinae were the most representative subfamilies, with 53% and 18% of the total species richness, respectively. The genera with the largest number of species were Pheidole (41) and Camponotus (40). This large number of ant species recorded for the rocky grasslands surpasses those found in other studies conducted in several different places. Ant species richness decreased with altitude; most species occur below 800 m a.s.l. (171), and only a few species occur above1600 m a.s.l. (17). Some genera occur only at a specific altitude (e.g., Azteca and Dolichoderus at 800/900 m a.s.l.; Leptogenys and Labidus at 1400 m a.s.l.), which points out to the potential use of ants as biological indicators. Our results suggest that the rocky grasslands favor high ant diversity. The patterns of ant richness associated with the altitudinal gradient reinforce the idea of considering the rocky grasslands as priority areas for biological conservation. Moreover, we observed a lack of records on the occurrence of most ant species considered in the present study (93%), which shows that Brazilian myrmecologists need to invest more in taxonomy, management, and data sharing.
- DaRocha, W. D., S. P. Ribeiro, F. S. Neves, G. W. Fernandes, M. Leponce, and J. H. C. Delabie. 2015. How does bromeliad distribution structure the arboreal ant assemblage (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on a single tree in a Brazilian Atlantic forest agroecosystem? Myrmecol. News. 21:83-92.
Abstract: Some tropical agro-forestry systems contribute to the maintenance of diverse vascular epiphytes. Due to high bromeliad density, they may resemble native Brazilian Atlantic forest canopies offering resources for organisms living at the top of the trees such as ants. The present study investigates the importance of epiphytes on trees planted to shade cocoa plantations as habitats for ants. The following hypotheses were tested: (I) The bromeliad structure and location (distance from the tree centre) in the canopy affect ant species richness; (II) epiphytes with suspended soil support higher ant species richness; (III) the composition of ant assemblages differs between bromeliads with and without suspended soil and also as a function of bromeliad size; (IV) epiphyte-dwelling ant species composition depend on the epiphyte genera and species. The study was carried out in March 2007, in a cocoa agro-forestry area froms the Cocoa Research Center, Ilhéus, state of Bahia, Brazil. On a single Erythrina tree, 47 ant species were collected in 36 out of the 52 bromeliad epiphytes sampled. The ant composition was strongly affected by the presence of suspended soils where many bromeliads root. We detected a significant negative correlation between location of the bromeliad and ant richness. The ant species richness and composition depended on the epiphyte size and the occurrence of suspended soil. These results stress the importance for biodiversity conservation in agroforestry systems of choosing shade trees that can accommodate epiphytes. This study demonstrates the remarkable diversity of ants associated with the epiphyte community of a single tree, in addition to the distinctive association between the different species of epiphytes, their physical characteristics, and their inhabiting ant fauna.
- Dejean, A., S. Groc, B. Herault, H. Rodriguez-Perez, A. Touchard, R. Cereghino, J. H. C. Delabie, and B. Corbara. 2015. Bat aggregation mediates the functional structure of ant assemblages. Comptes Rendus Biologies. 338:688-695. doi:10.1016/j.crvi.2015.06.011
In the Guianese rainforest, we examined the impact of the presence of guano in and around a bat roosting site (a cave). We used ant communities as an indicator to evaluate this impact because they occupy a central place in the functioning of tropical rainforest ecosystems and they play different roles in the food web as they can be herbivores, generalists, scavengers or predators. The ant species richness around the cave did not differ from a control sample situated 500 m away. Yet, the comparison of functional groups resulted in significantly greater numbers of detritivorous fungus-growing and predatory ant colonies around the cave compared to the control, the contrary being true for nectar and honeydew feeders. The role of bats, through their guano, was shown using stable isotope analyses as we noted significantly greater δ15N values for the ant species captured in and around the cave compared to controls.
- Diame, L., R. Blatrix, I. Grechi, J. Y. Rey, C. A. B. Sane, J. F. Vayssieres, H. de Bon, and K. Diarra. 2015. Relations between the design and management of Senegalese orchards and ant diversity and community composition. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment. 212:94-105. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2015.07.004
Abstract. Although agriculture is a major factor in environmental change, the level of its impact is likely to vary with farming practices. Thus, we sought to determine how farming practices might affect the natural compartment of agroecosystems and the sustainable use of land. In particular, we examined ant biodiversity and community composition as related to orchard design and management practices in the mango- and citrus-based orchard agroecosystems of Senegal. Ants were collected using pitfall traps in 49 orchards classed in four types based on their design and management. The results showed that the effect of practices was significant, albeit weak, and a typology of orchards based on design and management practices was congruent with a typology based on the composition of ant communities. The different types of orchard were seen to differ in the richness and diversity ant species. Moreover, ant richness and diversity was positively correlated with tree richness. We were also able to identify some ant species as being related to agricultural practices. For instance, Monomorium salomonis (L.) was closely associated with high irrigation, fertilization and pesticide use, whereas Paltothyreus tarsatus was associated with greater tree richness, high local ground coverage by the tree canopy, more leaf litter and great variation in the local tree planting density. This study appears to be the first attempt to characterise the relations existing between orchard design and management practices and the functioning of Sahelian fruit-based agroecosystems thereby furthering the goal of providing recommendations for sustainable management strategies.
- Fotso, A. K., R. Hanna, M. Tindo, A. Doumtsop, and P. Nagel. 2015. How plants and honeydew-producing hemipterans affect ant species richness and structure in a tropical forest zone. Insectes Sociaux. 62:443-453. doi:10.1007/s00040-015-0423-5
Abstract: Extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) and hemipteran honeydew are often discussed as two alternative mechanisms encouraging ant visitation in mutualistic ant–plant relationships, but little is known about the processes that generate distribution pattern in species-rich insect communities. A case study on the interaction between ants, EFN-bearing plants and hemipterans was investigated along a gradient of increasing disturbance from regenerated forest to mixed crop field. Ants, EFN-bearing plants and hemipterans sampling was conducted in these vegetations during the wet and the dry seasons in five locations. Results showed that partitioning of ant species between season and vegetation was significantly different from random. High specialization index was observed in hemipterans/plants and ant/hemipterans interactions. Low specialization index was observed between ants and EFN-bearing plants mainly in the mixed crop field. Ant species were mostly found in non-aggressive co-occurrence at nectar sources. At the species level, specialization index was high for Anoplolepis tenella (0.86 ± 0.06) and also for its associated hemipterans Stictococcus vayssierei (0.97 ± 0.02). This association is detrimental to food crop especially cassava. These results outline the effect of vegetation and food source on the structure of the ant assemblage and interaction in tropical forest zone.
- Gillette, P. N., K. K. Ennis, G. D. Martinez, and S. M. Philpott. 2015. Changes in Species Richness, Abundance, and Composition of Arboreal Twig-nesting Ants Along an Elevational Gradient in Coffee Landscapes. Biotropica. 47:712-722. doi:10.1111/btp.12263
Abstract: The distribution, diversity, and assembly of tropical insects have long intrigued ecologists, and for tropical ants, can be affected by competitive interactions, microhabitat requirements, dispersal, and availability and diversity of nesting sites. Arboreal twig-nesting ants are limited by the number of hollow twigs available, especially in intensive agricultural systems. Ant diversity and abundance may shift along elevation gradients, but no studies have examined if the proportion of occupied twigs or richness of arboreal twig-nesting ants vary with elevation. In coffee agroecosystems, there are over 40 species of arboreal twig-nesting ants. We examined communities of twig-nesting ants in coffee plants along an elevational gradient to answer the following questions: (1) Do species richness and colony abundance decline with elevation or show a mid-elevation peak? (2) Does community composition change with elevation? (3) Is elevation an important predictor of change in ant abundance, richness, and relative abundance of common species? We surveyed 42 10 × 10 m plots in 2013 from 450 to1550 m elevation across a coffee landscape in Chiapas, Mexico. We sampled a total of 2211 hollow coffee twigs, 77.1 percent of which were occupied by one of 28 species of ants. Pseudomyrmex simplex was more abundant in lower elevations, whereas Pseudomyrmex ejectus dominated in high elevations. Species richness and the percent of occupied hollow twigs both peaked at mid-elevations (800–1050 m). In sum, we found that species richness, abundance, and composition of arboreal twig-nesting ants shift with elevation. These findings may provide important insights for understanding ant communities in coffee agroecosystems.
...and other conclusions (p720) from this study: In sum, elevation was correlated with changes in hollow twig occupation by ants, ant species richness, estimated ant species richness, relative abundance of common species, and community composition of arboreal twig-nesting ants in coffee agroecosystems across the Soconusco region of Chiapas. Species richness and colony abundance peaked at mid-elevations. Some species were influenced by hollow twig availability, vegetation complexity or both, but elevation was an important factor for all ant-related variables examined. Individual species of ants interact differently in the complex food web, carrying out unique functions (Vandermeer et al. 2010). Ants serve as important indicator species (Hoffmann & Andersen 2003), and moreover, ants in coffee agroecosystems play an important role in pest control (De la Mora et al. 2008, Larsen & Philpott 2010, Gonthier et al. 2013). Thus, the results demonstrating changes in relative abundance of certain ant species with changes in vegetation complexity, and changes in ant abundance, richness, and composition with elevation should be examined more carefully to understand implications for ecosystem service provision, and ultimately for coffee farmers.
- Hanisch, P. E., L. A. Calcaterra, M. Leponce, R. Achury, A. V. Suarez, R. R. Silva, and C. Paris. 2015. Check list of ground-dwelling ant diversity (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the Iguazu National Park with a comparison at regional scale. Sociobiology. 62:213-227. doi:10.13102/sociobiology.v62i2.213-227
Abstract: We describe the ant fauna of Iguazú National Park (INP), a region of high biodiversity and endemism in northeastern Argentina that includes the southernmost protected area of the Atlantic Forest (AF). Ants were sampled over seven periods from 1998 to 2011 using a variety of techniques. We also surveyed museum collections and the scientific literature to obtain additional records of ants from INP. In addition to providing a species list, we compare ant composition of INP to other sites in the Upper Paraná, Serra do Mar Coastal Forest and Araucaria ecoregion of AF. A total of 172 ant species belonging to 56 genera are reported; 56 species are new records for Misiones Province and 39 species are reported from Argentina for the first time. Alto Paraná and Canindeyú departments in Paraguay present the most similar ant fauna to INP. Serra da Bodoquena in Brazil and Pilcomayo in Argentina showed higher similarity with the Upper Paraná AF ecoregion, despite that Serra da Bodoquena is composed of a mix of ecoregions. Ant diversity was lower in Upper Paraná than in Serra do Mar Coastal Forest ecoregion. This difference may result from higher primary productivity and a greater altitudinal variation in the coastal region.
- Herrera-Rangel, J., E. Jimenez-Carmona, and I. Armbrecht. 2015. Monitoring the Diversity of Hunting Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on a Fragmented and Restored Andean Landscape. Environmental Entomology. 44:1287-1298. doi:10.1093/ee/nvv103
ABSTRACT Hunting ants are predators of organisms belonging to different trophic levels. Their presence, abundance, and diversity may reflect the diversity of other ants and contribute to evaluate habitat conditions. Between 2003 and 2005 the restoration of seven corridors in an Andean rural landscape of Colombia was performed. The restoration took place in lands that were formerly either forestry plantations or pasturelands. To evaluate restoration progress, hunting ants were intensely sampled for 7 yr, using sifted leaf litter and mini-Winkler, and pitfall traps in 21 plots classified into five vegetation types: forests, riparian forests, two types of restored corridors, and pasturelands. The ant communities were faithful to their habitat over time, and the main differences in ant composition, abundance, and richness were due to differences among land use types. The forests and riparian forests support 45% of the species in the landscape while the restored corridors contain between 8.3–25%. The change from forest to pasturelands represents a loss of 80% of the species. Ant composition in restored corridors was significantly different than in forests but restored corridors of soil of forestry plantations retained 16.7% more species than restored corridors from pasturelands. Ubiquitous hunting ants, Hypoponera opacior and Gnamptogenys ca andina were usually associated with pastures and dominate restored corridors. Other cryptic, small, and specialized hunting ants are not present in the restored corridors. Results suggest that the history of land use is important for the biodiversity of hunting ants but also that corridors have not yet effectively contributed toward conservation goals.
- Krushelnycky, P. D. 2015. Ecology of some lesser-studied introduced ant species in Hawaiian forests. Journal of Insect Conservation. 19:659-667. doi:10.1007/s10841-015-9789-y
Abstract: Invasive ants can have strong ecological effects on native arthropods, but most information on this topic comes from studies of a handful of ant species. The ecological impacts of the many additional introduced ‘tramp’ ant species are largely unknown. In mesic upland forests of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, ten species of introduced ants were found on four species of understory trees. However, these ants were generally uncommon and occurred at relatively low densities in this habitat type. The most common and abundant ant was Plagiolepis alluaudi, which favored the native tree Pipturus albidus. Ecological effects of ants on arthropods were found to be modest, with overall arthropod community composition not significantly different between ant-occupied and ant-free trees. Most taxonomic groups were similar in abundance and richness between ant-occupied and ant-free trees, except adventive Coleoptera, adventive Hemiptera, and Lepidoptera were less abundant on ant-occupied trees, and adventive Coleoptera and adventive Hemiptera also had lower richness on ant-occupied trees. Among Lepidoptera, caterpillars of two endemic groups had significantly lower incidences on trees with higher ant abundances, while other caterpillars did not. Arthropod trophic structure was largely unaffected, except that chewing herbivores comprised a smaller fraction of biomass on ant-occupied trees. While overall ecological effects were weak in comparison to prior results involving other ant species in Hawai‘i, some of the impacts suggest that higher densities of these introduced ant species could result in similar interactions with arthropods as those of the better-studied invasive ant species.
- Lange, D., A. A. Vilela, G. Erdogmus, A. B. Barbosa, S. C. Costa, and V. Stefani. 2015. Temporal dynamic of foraging of epigeic ants in an urban forest fragment. Bioscience Journal. 31:1501-1511.
ABSTRACT: The present study aimed to investigate the foraging dynamic of an ant community in an urban semideciduous mesophitic forest. A total of 4,297 individuals, distributed in 23 species, seven genera and four subfamilies were sampled in January, April, July and October of 2010. Four ant species guilds were found: leaf cutters, soil-dominant omnivores, soil and vegetation opportunists and large-sized epigaeic predators. There were no significant differences in total of species richness and abundance of individuals in samples among the months evaluated. However, there was a clear substitution (turnover) of species over the months. Nine species were sampled exclusively in the rainy period and five species were present only during the dry period. Thus, the species turnover over the months support the hypothesis that ant communities present a temporal dynamics in their foraging activities even in an urban forest fragment. In general, the abundance of ants foraging on soil was greatest during the months with greater rainfall. However, two species belonging to the guild of opportunistic ants from soil and vegetation doubled the number of foraging individuals in period during the months with less precipitation. These findings support that ant communities, independent of isolation and environment (urban or natural), have temporal dynamics that arise from factors relating to the biology and behavior of the group.
- Menke, S. B., E. Gaulke, A. Hamel, and N. Vachter. 2015. The Effects of Restoration Age and Prescribed Burns on Grassland Ant Community Structure. Environmental Entomology. 44:1336-1347. doi:10.1093/ee/nvv110
Abstract: North American grassland environments are endangered as a result of degradation and conversion for agriculture and housing. Efforts to manage and restore grasslands have traditionally focused on monitoring plant communities to determine restoration success, but the incorporation of animal communities may provide important benchmarks of ecosystem function and restoration. Ants play many roles in maintaining ecosystem health in temperate grasslands, but relatively little is known about how ant communities respond to restoration. We studied the role that restoration age and prescribed burns have on ant communities in two types of Illinois grasslands, prairies and savannas, and identify indicator species of restoration success. Grassland environments included remnants and restorations that varied in age from newly restored sites, to sites that have been under restoration for >15 yr. We demonstrate that prairie and savanna ant communities are distinct, but respond to restoration in a similar manner. Three distinct prairie ant assemblages were identified based on the age of restoration of a site—sites <3 yr old, sites that have been under restoration >5 yr, and remnant prairies. Four distinct savanna ant assemblages were identified based on the age of restoration of a site—sites <3 yr old, sites 5–15 yr old, sites >15 yr old, and remnant savanna environments. After accounting for restoration age, time since last burn in both prairie and savannas does not explain community composition or species richness. Several ant species in both prairies and savannas have predictable changes in incidence that indicate their suitability for use as indicator species.
- Meurer, E., L. D. Battirola, J. H. C. Delabie, and M. I. Marques. 2015. Influence of the Vegetation Mosaic on Ant (Formicidae: Hymenoptera) Distributions in the Northern Brazilian Pantanal. Sociobiology. 62:382-388. doi:10.13102/sociobiology.v62i3.359
Abstract: We examined how vegetation mosaic influences distribution of the edaphic ant (Formicidae) community in the northern part of the Pantanal in Cáceres, State of Mato Grosso, Brazil. Plant formations (hereafter habitats) that characterize this area include several savanna types, such as: Cerrado sensu stricto, Cerradão, Semi-deciduous forest, Termite savanna, Open fields and Cerrado field/carandazal. Pitfall traps were placed in ten 250 m transects each one separated by 1 km, within an area of 2 x 5 km (following RAPELD methodology). Five traps at intervals of 50 m were placed along each transect, in September and December 2008. Forty-four ant species were collected. leaf litter predicted ant presence and influenced species occurrence in the different habitats. Pantanal habitats are very different structurally from one to another, which has have resulted in areas with very specific ant assemblages. The understanding of the ant community structure in these areas is fundamental to floodplain management.
- Nakamura, A., C. J. Burwell, C. L. Lambkin, M. Katabuchi, A. McDougall, R. J. Raven, and V. J. Neldner. 2015. The role of human disturbance in island biogeography of arthropods and plants: an information theoretic approach. Journal of Biogeography. 42:1406-1417. doi:10.1111/jbi.12520
Abstract: Aim. Recent progress in island biogeography indicates that classical island biogeography alone cannot encapsulate the complex and dynamic nature of island biogeographical processes. Factors such as habitat complexity and connectivity, and in the face of the Anthropocene, human disturbance and invasive species, may influence insular communities. The relative importance of these factors, however, may differ among groups of biota. Here we employed an information theoretic approach to investigate factors likely to explain patterns in species richness and assemblage composition of five different groups of arthropods (ants, beetles, flies, spiders and cockroaches) and native and exotic plants within an insular community. Location. Capricornia Cays located at the southern end of Great Barrier Reef, eastern Australia. Methods. Arthropods were sampled from 14 cays using pitfall and Malaise traps and hand collecting. Plants were comprehensively surveyed on each island. We used univariate and multivariate generalized linear models with a model averaging technique, to calculate summed Akaike weights which quantified the relative importance of predictor variables in explaining variation in species richness and assemblage composition. Results. We found that infestation of the invasive ant Pheidole megacephala was negatively correlated with the species richness of ants, beetles and flies. Unlike species richness, only the assemblage composition of ants was related to P. megacephala infestation. Assemblage composition of other arthropod groups and plants was related to various factors, including island size (native plants), native plant species richness (beetles, flies and spiders) and presence of human disturbances (exotic plants and cockroaches). Main conclusions. The information theoretic approach proved useful in determining the relative likelihood of factors influencing both univariate and multivariate data of insular fauna and flora. The results demonstrated that human disturbance and proliferation of invasive species can override other biogeographical processes. The relative importance of these factors, however, varied depending on the taxonomic groups studied.
- Ossola, A., M. A. Nash, F. J. Christie, A. K. Hahs, and S. J. Livesley. 2015. Urban habitat complexity affects species richness but not environmental filtering of morphologically-diverse ants. PeerJ. 3. doi:10.7717/peerj.1356
Abstract: Habitat complexity is a major determinant of structure and diversity of ant assemblages. Following the size-grain hypothesis, smaller ant species are likely to be advantaged in more complex habitats compared to larger species.Habitat complexity can act as an environmental filter based on species size and morphological traits, therefore affecting the overall structure and diversity of ant assemblages. In natural and semi-natural ecosystems, habitat complexity is principally regulated by ecological successions or disturbance such as fire and grazing. Urban ecosystems provide an opportunity to test relationships between habitat, ant assemblage structure and ant traits using novel combinations of habitat complexity generated and sustained by human management. We sampled ant assemblages in low-complexity and high-complexity parks, and high-complexity woodland remnants, hypothesizing that (i) ant abundance and species richness would be higher in high-complexity urban habitats, (ii) ant assemblages would differ between low- and high-complexity habitats and (iii) ants living in high-complexity habitats would be smaller than those living in low-complexity habitats. Contrary to our hypothesis, ant species richness was higher in low-complexity habitats compared to high-complexity habitats. Overall, ant assemblages were significantly different among the habitat complexity types investigated, although ant size and morphology remained the same. Habitat complexity appears to affect the structure of ant assemblages in urban ecosystems as previously observed in natural and semi-natural ecosystems. However, the habitat complexity filter does not seem to be linked to ant morphological traits related to body size.
- Pech, P., J. Dolansky, R. Hrdlicka, and J. Leps. 2015. Differential response of communities of plants, snails, ants and spiders to long-term mowing in a small-scale experiment. Community Ecology. 16:115-124. doi:10.1556/168.2015.16.1.13
Abstract: We examined the response of communities of four groups of organisms (plants, snails, ants and spiders) in a small scale mosaic of 8-years mown and unmown plots in a wet meadow in Central Europe. The experimental setup consisted of 7 unmown and 8 regularly mown 4 m2 plots in checkerboard arrangement. Eight years after the start of the experiment, the plant community structure diverged in response to mowing/nonmowing, both in species composition and structure. Both bryophyte and vascular plant species numbers were significantly higher in the mown plots. In unmown plots, bryophytes nearly disappeared and plots were dominated by the tall tussock grass Molinia caerulea. Both diversity and abundance of snails were higher in unmown plots than in mown ones. Ant nests were more abundant in mown plots and species composition differed between mown and unmown plots. We captured significantly more individuals of spiders in mown plots but we did not find any difference in species composition. We conclude that the 8-years duration of different management of 4 m2 plots was sufficient to establish different communities in low movable organisms, whereas these plots are probably too small to host different assemblages of organisms with good active dispersal abilities.
- Rocha-Ortega, M. and G. Castano-Meneses. 2015. Effects of urbanization on the diversity of ant assemblages in tropical dry forests, Mexico. Urban Ecosystems. 18:1373-1388. doi:10.1007/s11252-015-0446-8
Abstract: Urbanization has a direct effect on the landscape and its biodiversity, however urban centers has been ignored in most ecological studies. We study the diversity of ant communities in four remnants of tropical dry forest with different degrees of disturbance which are on the edge of the urban area in Querétaro city, Mexico. Samples were collected two times per month, from December 2004 to December 2005, in four strata: leaf litter, ground, scrub and arboreal. . A total of 25 species and 23 morphospecies were captured, belonging to 28 genera of 6 subfamilies: Dolichoderinae (3 species), Ecitoninae (5), Formicinae (12), Myrmicinae (24), Ponerinae (2) and Pseudomyrmicinae (2). Across the urban-disturbance gradient here studied the local diversity pattern could be explaining by the disturbance heterogeneity model. The most negative effect of urbanization was found for arboreal ants, while leaf litter communities were less susceptible to anthropogenic changes. In general, we found low rates of turnover, even in sites with high values of alpha diversity, evidencing the impoverishment of the ant community surrounding Querétaro city and the susceptibility of the community to extinction. The remnants were functionally very dissimilar and the effects of urbanization depend largely of the diet and life history of individual ant species. Moreover, it was found that the soil proprieties and vegetation structure influenced patterns of ant diversity along the urban-disturbance gradient. Despite the anthropogenic disturbance of the tropical dry forests surrounding the city of Querétaro, these forest remnants serve as a refuge for rare species and prove ecosystem functions. Ant biodiversity is also indicative of the state of ecosystem functions inside these remnants and likely of the biodiversity of other groups. Therefore, the conservation of these sites must be promoted to protect ant biodiversity and other taxonomic groups.
- Staubus, W. J., E. S. Boyd, T. A. Adams, D. M. Spear, M. M. Dipman, and W. M. Meyer. 2015. Ant communities in native sage scrub, non-native grassland, and suburban habitats in Los Angeles County, USA: conservation implications. Journal of Insect Conservation. 19:669-680. doi:10.1007/s10841-015-9790-5
Abstract: Southern California’s sage scrub (SS) ecosystem is severely threatened by suburban development and invasion by non-native grasses, but how these threats impact the arthropod community is poorly understood. Native ants, which face the additional threat of being displaced by non-native Argentine ants, may be particularly at risk of local and regional extirpation. In this study, we surveyed the ant communities in the SS and non-native grassland habitats at the Robert J Bernard Biological Field Station (BFS) and surrounding suburban habitat, and compared patterns of species richness and composition among habitat types. We also compared ant richness and composition at the BFS to 40 coastal SS fragments previously surveyed in San Diego County to better understand how ant communities in interior and coastal SS fragments differ. Ant composition significantly differed among all three habitat types at and surrounding the BFS, but species richness did not. Comparisons between the BFS and coastal fragments indicate that interior SS fragments harbor unique ant species and more species relative to fragment area. Increased richness and unique ant assemblages are probably associated with the limited ability of invasive Argentine ants to colonize the non-native grassland and SS at the BFS. Because many southern California invertebrates are narrowly endemic to low elevation areas, patterns of habitat specificity seen with ants highlight that maintaining a mosaic of SS and non-native grassland habitat, particularly in interior areas where activity and diversity of non-native invertebrate species may be restricted, may be critical to preserving biodiversity.
- Vital, M. R., M. M. de Castro, V. Zeringota, and F. Prezoto. 2015. Myrmecofauna of Urban Gardens in Southeast Region of Brazil. Bioscience Journal. 31:1205-1212.
Abstract: In an urban environment, ants can find shelter for the construction of their nests and resources available for survival. Myrmecofauna surveys have been conducted in forest fragments and residential areas, but there are few studies on the occurrence of these insects in urban gardens. For this reason, the aim of this study is to know the composition of ant communities in urban gardens in the city of Juiz de Fora, southeast region of Brazil. Samples were taken from six gardens between November 2005 and June 2006. We used a consortium of three methodologies: active searching, baits and pitfall traps. We collected specimens of 26 genera and seven subfamilies. The subfamily Myrmicinae was the most diverse, and the genus Wasmannia, was considered the most constant, followed by Camponotus and Linepithema. The efficiency index of the methodologies demonstrated that active searching was the most efficient (96.15%) methodology. This method is efficient and sufficient for sampling ants in urban gardens, since 25 of the 26 genera sampled, presenting seven exclusive genera. The green area was not positively correlated with the diversity of ant genera in the urban gardens, demonstrating that other variables may be involved.