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Harvard Forest REU Symposium Abstract 2006

  • Title: A Comparison of Ant Biodiversity and Distribution between Simes Tract and Black Rock Forest
  • Author: ()
  • Abstract:

    Ants are known for their roles in alteration of soil composition, seed dispersal, and decomposition efforts, making them extremely important components of ecosystems world-wide. It will be essential in the next few years to obtain ant biodiversity inventories of the Northeastern United States as environmental transitions, such as deforestation from logging, invasion of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, and global warming, begin to take effect. Extensive research is being conducted studying interactions between local ant populations and environmental factors, both natural and artificially induced, within the Hemlock Removal Experiment within the Simes Tract at the Harvard Forest, MA. Beyond these experimental plots, however, there is little knowledge of area-wide ant assemblages and ant biodiversity.

    To measure total ant biodiversity of two Northeastern sites, we sampled seven 100-m, and one 50-m, long transects under a variety of different habitats (hemlock, hardwood, swamp, and rocky slope) at Simes Tract and sixteen 65-m long transects under a mainly hardwood canopy at the oak-removal experimental site at the Black Rock Forest in Cornwall, NY. Pitfall traps were inserted into the ground roughly every 5-m along each transect. We captured ants using aforementioned pitfall traps, Sandies® Pecan Shortbread cookie baits, and litter and hand sampling methods. Each transect was sampled twice at Simes Tract and once at Black Rock Forest between June and August of 2006. A total of 25 ant species and 32 ant species were found at Simes Tract and Black Rock Forest, respectively. Ant species between the two sites were found to be 42.5% similar, using the Jaccard index. Aphaenogaster rudis, Camponotus pennsylvanicus, Formica neogagates, and Myrmica punctiventris were the species most commonly encountered. These records, along with future Northeastern ant biodiversity studies, will prove to be invaluable for tracking shifts in ant community composition and in aiding forest management decisions.

  • Research Category: Physiological Ecology, Population Dynamics, and Species Interactions