, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 135-163
Date: 09 Sep 2010

Urban areas may serve as habitat and corridors for dry-adapted, heat tolerant species; an example from ants

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We collected ants from six urban and one forest land-use types in Raleigh, NC to examine the effects of urbanization on species richness and assemblage composition. Since urban areas are warmer (i.e., heat island effect) we also tested if cities were inhabited by species from warmer/drier environments. Species richness was lower in industrial areas relative to other urban and natural environments. There are two distinct ant assemblages; 1) areas with thick canopy cover, and 2) more disturbed open urban areas. Native ant assemblages in open environments have more southwestern (i.e., warmer/drier) distributions than forest assemblages. High native species richness suggests that urban environments may allow species to persist that are disappearing from natural habitat fragments. The subset of species adapted to warmer/drier environments indicates that urban areas may facilitate the movement of some species. This suggests that urban adapted ants may be particularly successful at tracking future climate change.