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Bestelmeyer, B.T. and J.A. Wiens. 1996. The effects of land use on the structure of ground-foraging ant communities in the Argentine Chaco. Ecological Applications, 16(4), 1225-1240. DOI:10.2307/2269603

latest article added on January 2015

ArticleFirst AuthorPublished
Using ants as bioindicators in land management: simplifying assessment of ant community responsesAndersen, Alan N.2002

Using ants as bioindicators in land management: simplifying assessment of ant community responses

Keywords

environmental assessment; land-use impacts; monitoring; sampling protocols; SO2

Abstract

1 The indicator qualities of terrestrial invertebrates are widely recognized in the context of detecting ecological change associated with human land-use. However, the use of terrestrial invertebrates as bioindicators remains more a topic of scientific discourse than a part of land-management practice, largely because their inordinate numbers, taxonomic challenges and general unfamiliarity make invertebrates too intimidating for most land-management agencies. Terrestrial invertebrates will not be widely adopted as bioindicators in land management until simple and efficient protocols have been developed that meet the needs of land managers. 2 In Australia, ants are one group of terrestrial insects that has been commonly adopted as bioindicators in land management, and this study examined the reliability of a simplified ant assessment protocol designed to be within the capacity of a wide range of land managers. 3 Ants had previously been surveyed intensively as part of a comprehensive assessment of biodiversity responses to SO2 emissions from a large copper and lead smelter at Mt Isa in the Australian semi-arid tropics. This intensive ant survey yielded 174 species from 24 genera, and revealed seven key patterns of ant community structure and composition in relation to habitat and SO2 levels. 4 We tested the extent to which a greatly simplified ant assessment was able to reproduce these results. Our simplified assessment was based on ant ‘bycatch’ from bucket-sized (20-litre) pitfall traps used to sample vertebrates as part of the broader biodiversity survey. We also greatly simplified the sorting of ant morphospecies by considering only large (using a threshold of 4 mm) species, and we reduced sorting time by considering only the presence or absence of species at each site. In this manner, the inclusion of ants in the assessment process required less than 10% of the effort demanded by the intensive ant survey. 5 Our simplified protocol reproduced virtually all the key findings of the intensive survey. This puts effective ant monitoring within the capacity of a wide range of land managers.

Authors

Andersen, Alan N., Hoffmann, Benjamin D., Muller, Warren J. and Griffiths, Anthony D.

Year Published

2002

Publication

Journal of Applied Ecology

Locations
DOI

10.1046/j.1365-2664.2002.00704.x

Contrasting fire-related resilience of ecologically dominant ants in tropical savannas of northern AustraliaAndersen, Alan N.2007

Contrasting fire-related resilience of ecologically dominant ants in tropical savannas of northern Australia

Keywords

Biogeography; fire experiment; Iridomyrmex; Oecophylla; rain forest; savanna/rain forest dynamics

Abstract

This paper examines the role of fire in mediating the relative abundance of two of the world's major ecologically dominant ant genera, Iridomyrmex and Oecophylla, where they coexist across the tropical savanna landscapes of northern Australia. These taxa have contrasting biogeographical histories, which are predicted to lead to contrasting responses to fire. Iridomyrmex is an autochthonous Australian genus that has radiated primarily in the arid zone; as such, its abundance is predicted to be promoted by frequent fire because this maintains an open habitat. In contrast, Oecophylla is a genus of leaf-nesting ants occurring in the canopies of Old World tropical rainforest, and is a recent arrival to Australia in geological time; the abundance of these ants is predicted to decline under frequent fire. We test these predictions using results from a landscape-scale fire experiment, where three experimental fire regimes (including no fire) were applied to replicated subcatchments over a 5-year period. Using sweep nets, ants were sampled in the grass layer (the habitat layer of greatest overlap between Iridomyrmex and Oecophylla) in eucalypt woodland (canopy cover < 30%) and open eucalypt forest (canopy cover about 50%) habitats. A total of 27 species from 11 genera were collected during the study; eight were common enough for statistical analysis, and the abundances of four of these were significantly affected by fire treatment. As predicted, the abundance of Iridomyrmex was promoted by fire, whereas that of Oecophylla declined. These changes occurred only under late-season (relatively high intensity) fires, and for Oecophylla occurred only in open forest (not woodland) habitat. This fire-mediated relationship between Iridomyrmex and Oecophylla mirrors the much broader, ecosystem-wide dynamic between eucalypt-dominated savanna and rainforest in tropical Australia, with savannas dominated by fire-resistant sclerophyll elements of Australian origin, and rainforest dominated by fire-sensitive mesophyll elements of South-East Asian origin.

Authors

Andersen, Alan N., PARR, CATHERINE L., Lowe, Lyn M. and Muller, Warren J.

Year Published

2007

Publication

Diversity And Distributions

Locations
DOI

10.1111/j.1472-4642.2007.00353.x

Post-fire recovery of Mediterranean ground ant communities follows vegetation and dryness gradientsArnan, Xavier2006

Post-fire recovery of Mediterranean ground ant communities follows vegetation and dryness gradients

Keywords

Ants; diversity; dryness gradient; fire; forest type; Mediterranean communities; post-fire recovery; resilience; species richness

Abstract

Aim  In the Mediterranean Basin, the main forest communities vary in their ability to recover after fire. In this study we analyse the effects of fire on ant communities occurring in various vegetation types distributed along a geographical gradient in the western Mediterranean region. Location  The study was carried out in burned and unburned habitats of 22 sites corresponding to eight vegetation types distributed along a gradient of dryness throughout Catalonia (north-east Spain). Methods  We placed five pairs of plots (one plot located in the burned area and the second one placed in the unburned margin) per site. We compared ant communities in these unburned and burned plot types 8 years after fire using pitfall traps. Traps were set out in mid-May and mid-July. We analysed the structure and composition of ant communities in the burned and unburned areas of these vegetation types using anova tests, correspondence analysis (CA) and linear regression. Results  The resilience of ant communities varies with vegetation type. Ant communities in forests with high resilience also recover rapidly after fire, while those in forests that do not recover after fire show the lowest resilience. Species richness does not depend on burning or vegetation type. The resilience of these Mediterranean ant communities to fire is related to the environmental characteristics of the region where they live. Accordingly, differences between burned and unburned habitats are smaller for ant communities in areas with higher water deficit in summer than for those in moister ones. Main conclusions  The structure and composition of ant communities after fire depends on the level of direct mortality caused by the fire. It affects ant species differently, as determined by the habitats used for nesting and foraging. The reestablishment of vegetation cover depends on forest composition before the fire. As vegetation cover determines resource and microhabitat availability and competitive relationships among species, forest composition before the fire also affects post-fire recovery of ant communities to the medium-term. Finally, ant communities living in drier areas recover more quickly after fire than those living in moister ones. This pattern might be because in areas with higher water deficit there are more species characteristic of open environments, which are habitats similar to those generated after fire.

Authors

Arnan, Xavier, Rodrigo, Anselm and Retana, Javier

Year Published

2006

Publication

Journal of Biogeography

Locations
DOI

10.1111/j.1365-2699.2006.01506.x

Uncoupling the effects of shade and food resources of vegetation on Mediterranean ants: an experimental approach at the community levelArnan, Xavier2007

Uncoupling the effects of shade and food resources of vegetation on Mediterranean ants: an experimental approach at the community level

Keywords

No keywords available

Abstract

Vegetation is one of the main factors affecting the composition and structure of ant communities. The effect of vegetation is both by offering food resources and by modifying the proportion of ground cover exposed to shade conditions. However, it is difficult in field studies to uncouple the effects of food resources and shade on animal communities. The goal of this study was to analyze experimentally the effects of vegetation through food and shade supply on the structure and composition of a Mediterranean ant community. We have crossed these two factors in a factorial design where we have eliminated vegetation in experimental treatments and we have simulated the effects of vegetation by manipulating separately the supply of food resources and shade. The expected decrease in ant abundance and richness in plots without food resources but with shade was only partially confirmed by the results, because there was a decrease in the number of ant species but not a significant decrease in overall ant abundance in plots without food resources. We did not confirm the second hypothesis that the decrease in shade while maintaining food resources resulted in an increase of heat-tolerant, subordinate species and, consequently, ant richness. Species composition differed in the different experimental treatments. Stress-tolerant species were abundant in areas without shade and without food resources. Heat-tolerant species were mainly present in plots without shade but with food resources. Finally, species with high requirements of shade and/or food resources were associated to control plots with both shade and food resources from vegetation. Overall, this study provides an experiment that uncouples experimentally shade and food resources and dissects their effects on the whole ant community, and shows that the effects of the two factors are independent and affect different components of ant community structure and composition.

Authors

Arnan, Xavier, Rodrigo, Anselm and Retana, Javier

Year Published

2007

Publication

Ecography

Locations
DOI

10.1111/j.0906-7590.2007.04796.x

Effects of feral horses in Great Basin landscapes on soils and ants: Direct and indirect mechanismsBeever, E.A.2006

Effects of feral horses in Great Basin landscapes on soils and ants: Direct and indirect mechanisms

Keywords

Equus caballus; Formica; Pogonomyrmex; Nevada; Disturbance; Conservation

Abstract

We compared soil-surface penetration resistance and abundance of ant mounds at 12 western Great Basin sites (composed of 19 plots) either grazed by feral horses (Equus caballus) or having had horses removed for the last 10–14 years. Across this broad spatial domain (3.03 million ha), we minimized confounding due to abiotic factors by selecting horse-occupied and horse-removed sites with similar aspect, slope, fire history, grazing pressure by cattle (minimal to none), and dominant vegetation (Artemisia tridentata). During both 1997 and 1998, we found 2.2–8.4 times greater abundance of ant mounds and 3.0–15.4 times lower penetration resistance in soil surfaces at horseremoved sites. In 1998, thatched Formica ant mounds, which existed predominately at high elevations, were 3.3 times more abundant at horse-removed sites, although abundance varied widely among sites within treatments. Several types of analyses suggested that horses rather than environmental variability were the primary source of treatment differences we observed in ecosystem components. Tests of several predictions suggest that alterations occurred through not only direct effects, but also indirect effects and potentially feedback loops. Free-roaming horses as well as domestic grazers should be considered in conservation planning and land management in the Great Basin, an ecoregion that represents both an outstanding conservation opportunity and challenge.

Authors

Beever, E.A. and Herrick, J.E.

Year Published

2006

Publication

Journal of Arid Environments

Locations
DOI

10.1016/j.jaridenv.2005.11.006

ANT BIODIVERSITY IN SEMIARID LANDSCAPE MOSAICS: THE CONSEQUENCES OF GRAZING VS. NATURAL HETEROGENEITYBestelmeyer, Brandon T.2001

ANT BIODIVERSITY IN SEMIARID LANDSCAPE MOSAICS: THE CONSEQUENCES OF GRAZING VS. NATURAL HETEROGENEITY

Keywords

ants; canonical correspondence analysis; desert grassland; diversity; Formicidae; grazing; habitat classification; shortgrass steppe; soil texture

Abstract

The conservation of biodiversity in landscape mosaics requires an under- standing of the impacts of human land use within mosaic elements and an evaluation of the biological uniqueness of different elements. We address these issues by examining patterns of ant diversity in three semiarid rangeland landscapes used predominantly for grazing. These landscapes lie along a regional gradient from shortgrass steppe through a transitional zone to desert grassland, along which climate and ant species composition vary. Within each landscape, we compared the effects of grazing and natural variation in soils and vegetation on ant diversity and community composition. Grazing had little effect on ant richness, diversity, or composition at the transitional zone or the desert grassland site, but ungrazed areas at the shortgrass steppe site had a higher overall richness and favored the abundance of some species. Some samples of saltbush ( Atriplex canescens ) shrubland were similar to ungrazed samples in richness and species composition. In both the tran- sitional zone and the desert grassland, creosotebush ( Larrea tridentata )-dominated habitats harbored comparatively species-rich and distinct ant communities. In addition, mesquite ( Prosopis glandulosa ) coppice dunes at the desert grassland site favored the abundance of several species that were rare across the site. Canonical correspondence analysis revealed that variation in soil strength and texture best explained community variation at the short- grass steppe site, whereas soil texture and associated differences in shrub density best explained differences in composition at the transitional and desert grassland sites. The characterization of habitats based upon vegetation classification did not adequately reflect environmental variation that was important to ants in shortgrass steppe, but reflected im- portant soil textural variation in the transitional and desert grassland sites. These results suggest that ant conservation in these semiarid rangelands should emphasize patterns of variation in soil properties. The results add to a growing consensus that a variety of variables determined by the responses of several focal taxa may be needed to characterize biodiversity patterns.

Authors

Bestelmeyer, Brandon T. and Wiens, John A.

Year Published

2001

Publication

Ecological Applications

Locations
DOI

10.1890/1051-0761(2001)011[1123:ABISLM]2.0.CO;2

This article contributed by:

Ecological Society of America

The trade-off between thermal tolerance and behavioural dominance in a subtropical South American ant communityBestelmeyer, Brandon T.2000

The trade-off between thermal tolerance and behavioural dominance in a subtropical South American ant community

Keywords

competition; Formicidae; functional types; microclimate; stress

Abstract

1. The distribution, ecology, and behaviour of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) is profoundly influenced by environmental stress and competition. As in plants, trade-offs in adaptations to these factors are the basis for functional classifications of ant taxa and communities at a global scale. 2. Theory predicts a trade-off between stress tolerance and competitive dominance in both plants and ants. In ants, low temperature is thought to be stressful, so I hypothesized that there would be a positive relationship between temperature and behavioural dominance. I evaluated this relationship in a South American, Chaco ant community. 3 The activity and behaviour of ground-foraging, omnivorous ants were examined at baits in open and closed, forested habitats during different seasons and times of day to characterize the responses of ant taxa to variation in microclimate and competitors. 4. Behaviourally dominant ants were most active at moderately high temperatures, whereas subordinate species were active at extreme temperatures, when they had virtually exclusive access to resources. 5. The patterns presented here and those observed in other studies suggest that there is a general trade-off between behavioural dominance and thermal tolerance in ants. This trade-off creates a linear relationship between temperature use and dominance for ants up to ≈ 35 °C, but extremely high temperatures may also be stressful such that the full relationship is actually unimodal.

Authors

Bestelmeyer, Brandon T.

Year Published

2000

Publication

Journal of Animal Ecology

Locations
DOI

10.1111/j.1365-2656.2000.00455.x

The ants of the southern Sonoran desert: community structure and the role of treesBestelmeyer, Brandon T.1999

The ants of the southern Sonoran desert: community structure and the role of trees

Keywords

No keywords available

Abstract

In contrast to other North American deserts, the southern Sonoran desert is dominated by trees that provide shaded microhabitats necessary for the establishment and survival of several plant species. Near the southern limit of the Sonoran desert in Sonora, Mexico, we evaluated the role that tree microhabitats may play in structuring ant communities. We recorded 39 species and 21 genera of ants from a 9.7-ha area. Total species richness was estimated to be between 47 and 49 species, a much greater species richness than that reported for other North American arid-zone habitats. Although species richness did not differ between open ground and tree-shaded microhabitats, species composition did. Opportunistic species, Camponotus species, Pheidole sciophila and P. titanis were more common near trees, whereas Pheidole sp. A and granivorous species were more active in open areas. The imperilment of trees in the Sonoran desert due to commercial cutting and the spread of buffelgrass Pennisetum ciliare may alter the existing composition of ant communities.

Authors

Bestelmeyer, Brandon T. and Schooley, Robert L.

Year Published

1999

Publication

Biodiversity And Conservation

Locations
DOI

10.1023/A:1008873406658

Does desertification diminish biodiversity? Enhancement of ant diversity by shrub invasion in south-western USABestelmeyer, BT2005

Does desertification diminish biodiversity? Enhancement of ant diversity by shrub invasion in south-western USA

Keywords

desert grassland; Dorymyrmex bicolor; Forelius; Formicidae; functional group; Prosopis glandulosa

Abstract

The conversion of desert grasslands to shrublands is a long-standing concern in the south-western United States, but the effects of this change on native animals defy generalization. Here, I consider evidence that shrub invasion and encroachment, particularly that of honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), has led to increasing ecological dominance and diversity of ants in general, as well as increases in specific native taxa. The effects of shrub invasion on ants were measured at two scales: (1) between Chihuahuan Desert landscapes that vary slightly in temperature and strongly in the dominance of mesquite, and (2) across variation in mesquite density occurring within a generally mesquite-dominated landscape. Ant richness and numerical dominance was measured at pitfall traps over 2 years and baits were used to assess ecological dominance across different temperatures. The mesquite-dominated Jornada site harboured four times the number of ant foragers found at the relatively 'pristine' Sevilleta site, with several ecologically dominant taxa driving this pattern, especially Dorymyrmex bicolor. Species richness and ecological dominance were also greatest at the Jornada. Within the Jornada landscape, turnover in species composition was related to mesquite density, but local richness and abundance was unrelated to mesquite density. Coupled with the results of previous manipulative experiments and comparative studies, there is support for the notion that ant diversity is not negatively affected by shrub invasion but that several taxa prosper from it. The Jornada is uniquely saturated by dominant ant taxa, perhaps as a consequence of an overall high level of shrub availability that provides a reliable source of carbohydrate-rich plant exudates. This raises important questions about the relationship between environmental degradation, ecosystem productivity, and animal diversity.

Authors

Bestelmeyer, BT

Year Published

2005

Publication

Diversity And Distributions

Locations
DOI

10.1111/j.1366-9516.2005.00122.x

Influence of Habitat Fragmentation on the Genetic Variability in Leaf Litter Ant Populations in Tropical Rainforests of Sabah, BorneoBickel, Tobias O.2006

Influence of Habitat Fragmentation on the Genetic Variability in Leaf Litter Ant Populations in Tropical Rainforests of Sabah, Borneo

Keywords

Biodiversity Genetic distance Genetic diversity Habitat fragmentation Leaf litter ants Odontomachus rixosus Pheidole annexus Population subdivision RAPD fingerprint Tropical rainforest

Abstract

Two ant species, Odontomachus rixosus and Pheidole annexus, were studied in the tropical rainforests of Sabah, Malaysia, North Borneo, to analyze the impact of habitat fragmentation on the genetic diversity and population structure of ant populations using RAPD-fingerprinting. Ants were sampled in a contiguous (43,800 ha) and three patches of primary rainforests of varying size (4294, 146 and 20 ha) that were fragmented about 40 years ago. We found a decrease in genetic variability for both species in the fragmented populations compared to the contiguous. Genetic distances between populations resembled the geographical arrangement of populations and can be explained by an effect of isolation by distance. A high degree in population subdivision suggests a lack of meta-population dynamics due to a shortage of gene flow between populations, possibly the result of the high degree of habitat isolation by oil palm plantations. Although the results of this study are limited due to low replication this is the first data on genetic patterns of insect populations in fragmented rainforests and should be seen as starting point for future research. The value of small to medium sized protection areas for conservation needs to be carefully evaluated in the context of this study, as even relatively large areas (4294 ha) may not prevent the critical loss of genetic variability and guarantee long-term survival of organisms.

Authors

Bickel, Tobias O., Brühl, Carsten A., Gadau, Jürgen R., Hölldobler, Bert and Linsenmair, K. Eduard

Year Published

2006

Publication

Biodiversity And Conservation

Locations
DOI

10.1007/s10531-004-4248-1

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