Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 359–371 | Cite as

Research on urban ants: approaches and gaps

  • M. N. SantosEmail author
Review Article


Several species of ants are common in cities and are therefore included in studies of urban ecology. Here, I describe and categorize some aspects of the available literature on urban ants to better understand what has been studied and what is known by mapping well-studied areas and important gaps. Through systematic review techniques, I identified 109 relevant studies in the literature, and most (37.96 % of the publications) investigated the ecology and biodiversity of these ants followed by studies that addressed invasive ants (30.56 %), the control of pest ants (19.44 %) and public health (pathogen vector ants) (12.04 %). The studies that addressed invasive ants and pest ant control tended to focus on exotic species and their ecology, and the most tested type of control was the use of chemical pesticides. The most frequently used species for these tests was Linepithema humile, which was also the most studied invasive species. I identified a scarcity of studies in highly urbanized cities in countries located in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, Central America and South America with the exception of Brazil. I suggest that those topics that have not been studied in the literature, such as the influence of air pollution on ant fauna and the explicit recommendations for the handling and conservation of native species in urban green areas, be placed on the agenda of the scientific community as points of concern.


Hymenoptera Formicidae Urban ecosystem Urban ecology 



I would like to thank Jarbas Marçal de Queiroz for his technical assistance in preparing this study and for helpful comments that improved this manuscript. This research was supported by the Instituto de Pesquisas Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and by the Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Ambientais e Florestais, Instituto de Florestas, UFRRJ, Brazil. I also thank Margaret Jane Couvillon and the anonymous reviewers whose invaluable critical comments improved this manuscript.

Supplementary material

40_2016_483_MOESM1_ESM.doc (243 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 243 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratório de FitossanidadeInstituto de Pesquisas Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro, IPJBRJRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Ambientais e Florestais, Instituto de Florestas, UFRRJSeropédicaBrazil

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