Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 135–163 | Cite as

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

  • Sean B. MenkeEmail author
  • Benoit Guénard
  • Joseph O. Sexton
  • Michael D. Weiser
  • Robert R. Dunn
  • Jules Silverman


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.


Urban heat island Range shift Ant diversity Urban ecology 



We would like to thank E. Spicer for assistance in collecting and sorting traps and P. Ward for helping identify specimens. G. Ryman, K. Somers, and D. Urban assisted us with GIS data. Two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments. SBM and JS were funded in part by the Pest Management Foundation and the Blanton J. Whitmire endowment. RRD, MDW, SBM, and BG were supported during this work by DOE-NICCR grant, DOE-PER grnt (DE-FG02-08ER64510), and a NASA Biodiversity Grant (NNX09AK22G). NASA Earth Systems Science Fellowship funded Landsat image processing, which was performed by JOS at the Duke University Landscape Ecology Laboratory.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sean B. Menke
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Benoit Guénard
    • 2
    • 3
  • Joseph O. Sexton
    • 4
  • Michael D. Weiser
    • 2
  • Robert R. Dunn
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jules Silverman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  3. 3.W.M. Keck Center for Behavioral BiologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  4. 4.Biospheric Sciences BranchNASA Goddard Spaceflight CenterGreenbeltUSA

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