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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgements

We thank The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Natural Areas Program for data and access to study sites, Edward F. Connor for advice on statistical analysis and manuscript comments and Barry Nickel at San Francisco State for help with GIS. We are grateful for help in the field from Maureen Harrison and the constructive comments from members of the LeBuhn Lab. Kevin M. Clarke was supported by the California Academy of Sciences Graduate Assistantship Program and SFSU SEPAL GK-12 Partnership Program funded by the National Science Foundation.

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Correspondence to Gretchen LeBuhn.

Appendix 1

Appendix 1

Table 6 List of parks surveyed, including summary of park characteristics

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Clarke, K.M., Fisher, B.L. & LeBuhn, G. The influence of urban park characteristics on ant (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) communities. Urban Ecosyst 11, 317–334 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-008-0065-8

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Keywords

  • Urbanization
  • Natural areas
  • Argentine ant
  • San Francisco
  • Forest
  • Conservation