, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 418-421

Population studies on hill building wood-ants of the Formica rufa-group

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Summary

Population studies on hill building wood-ants of the Formica rufa-group.

Total inventories of inhabited ant hills of the Formica rufa-group were carried out in a part of the Black Forest amounting to 1,640 ha (4,100 acres) near Freiburg im Breisgau on five occasions during the period 1966–1978. Nest densities of 12.7 to 19.1 per 100 ha were recorded. Mean annual nest mortality for the three most abundant species (F. rufa, F. polyctena, F. pratensis) was 21–33% (Table 2); it remained almost the same during all intervals between inventories for all age classes studied (Fig. 2). The mean annual nest natality varied between 31 and 51%. It was therefore concluded that changes in the numbers of ant hills (Fig. 1) resulted from nest natality rather than from the reasonably stable nest mortality. Nest size was assessed by height and diameter. The development of nest size showed a marked increase with age for F. rufa and F. polyctena reaching a maximum at 2–5 years. Mean life expectancy of small nests was markedly lower than that of larger nests (Fig. 3). Consequently in the large size classes the numbers of old nests were significantly greater than the numbers of newly founded nests (Fig. 4). Results are compared with those recorded in the literature for palearctic and nearctic species belonging to the Formica rufa-group.

Supported by Ministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Umwelt Baden-Württemberg (MELU) and Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Forst- und Holzwirtschaftlichen Forschung Freiburg