Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 317-334

First online:

The influence of urban park characteristics on ant (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) communities

  • Kevin M. ClarkeAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, San Francisco State University
  • , Brian L. FisherAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, California Academy of Sciences
  • , Gretchen LeBuhnAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, San Francisco State University Email author 

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As rapid urbanization continues, existing natural areas within urban zones will play a critical role in safeguarding remaining biodiversity. Ants are an integral part of almost every terrestrial ecosystem, including urban environments, and understanding which environmental characteristics influence their persistence is critical. In this study, 24 protected natural areas within urban parks including mosaic, scrub, herbaceous and forest habitats were surveyed for ants with 563 pitfall traps. The data provide insights into the distribution and abundance of ant fauna in San Francisco natural areas, as well as which characteristics of parks have the most influence on ant community composition. A total of 2,068 ant individuals representing 15 species were collected. A regression analysis revealed that urban forests reduced ant richness and abundance and that there was little or no impact of the Argentine ant on native ants. Natural area size and shape were not important in explaining variations in overall ant species richness and abundance, with many smaller natural areas harboring ant populations that are just as diverse and robust as larger areas.


Urbanization Natural areas Argentine ant San Francisco Forest Conservation