Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) diversity and community composition along sharp urban forest edges
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- Ivanov, K. & Keiper, J. Biodivers Conserv (2010) 19: 3917. doi:10.1007/s10531-010-9937-3
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The effects of forest edge on ant species richness and community composition were examined within an urbanized area of northeast Ohio. The ground-dwelling ant fauna was inventoried in three deciduous forest fragments that have resulted from human disturbance. We surveyed ants via leaf-litter extraction along 150 m transects positioned perpendicular to the forest edge. We collected 4,670 individuals from 14 genera and 29 species. Samples closest to the forest edge contained more species and accumulated species at a higher rate than did samples located in the forest interior. Our rarefied and expected richness estimates revealed a decline of species richness from edge to forest interior. The higher ant richness at the forest edge was due mostly to the presence of species characteristic of the neighboring open habitats. Although most of the typical forest ant species were represented equally at the edge and at the forest interior, a few responded to the presence of edges with changes in their relative abundance and frequency of occurrence. Forest edges had a higher proportion of opportunistic species and a lower proportion of cryptic ants, whereas interior locations exhibited a more even distribution among ant functional groups. In addition, we documented a community composition shift between the edge and the forest interior. Consistent with previous findings, we suggest that the edge effects are most pronounced within 25 m of the forest edge, which may have implications for the overall conservation of forest-dwelling fauna.