Date of Award
Environmental and Forest Biology
William M. Shields
Ants are commonly used as bioindicators for assessing restoration sites because of the speed and sensitivity at which they respond to environmental changes. I compared ant genera among restoration sites to determine the influence of microhabitat and behavior on ant structure. I collected ants and microhabitat features (percent canopy cover, vegetation density and dry leaf litter weight) in three differently aged restoration plots (1998, 2004, 2009) in Queensland, Australia. Twenty ant genera were collected and assigned to functional groups. I concentrated on four genera to study ant communities: Iridomyrmex (functional group = dominant dolichoderinae), Pheidole (generalized myrmicinae), Paratrechina (opportunist) and Sphinctomyrmex (cryptic species). Among the 20 ant genera, ant composition was most similar between age-plots 1998 and 2004, and most dissimilar to age-plot 2009. Percent canopy cover and leaf litter weight were negatively correlated with Iridomyrmex and Paratrechina frequency and may be responsible for low frequencies of Iridomyrmex and Paratrechina in age-plots 1998 and 2004. In contrast, the frequencies of Pheidole were high in age-plots 1998 and 2004; Pheidole may have usurped the dominant role, therefore keeping the frequencies of opportunists low. Sphinctomyrmex had high frequencies in age-plots 1998 and 2004 possibly because of its cryptic behaviors. Age-plot 2009 showed no significant difference between the four ant genera - niche separation and ant structure has not had time to establish in younger restoration sites. Microhabitat features and niche partitioning between ant functional groups are important for developing ant communities. Recommendations were made for improving restoration sites with respect to ants.
Myers, Rebekah C., "Microhabitat Requirements and Behaviors of Ant Functional Groups that Allow for their Co-existence: A Recommendation for Restoration Practices" (2012). Honors Theses. 53.