Ant communities of the Colorado Plateau and Great Basin: comparisons of structure in space and time using genus and functional group classifications.
Graham, Tim1, Williams, Wyatt2, 1 USGS, Southwest Biological Science Center, Moab, Utah, USA2 Department of Biology, Boise, Idaho, USA
ABSTRACT- Ants can be important ecosystem drivers, and community dynamics of ants can influence and be influenced by disturbances and environmental stress. Ants were collected with pitfall traps from two sites in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) Utah, three sites in Canyonlands National Park (CANY), Utah, and four upland shrub-steppe sites, two in southern Utah and two in southeastern Oregon. The GSENM sites were sampled in spring and late summer from 2000 through 2003, both sites had been grazed prior to November 1998, one site was closed to grazing in November 1998. The CANY sites, sampled from 2000 to 2003 in June and September, were in Salt Creek Canyon, one was along a 4WD road, one along a section of the road that was closed in July 1998; the third site had not had vehicles near it for at least 40 years. The upland sites were trapped once each year, in 2000 and 2001, in spring, and were centered around livestock watering sources; ants were sampled at 5 (in 2000) or 6 (2001) distances from the water sources. Traps were open for four days each session, sites varied in number of times traps were opened each year. Specimens were identified to genus and assigned to functional groups. The alluvial bench sites in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and riparian sites in Canyonlands each had 13 genera represented, upland Utah sites had a total of 11 genera, while only nine genera were trapped in Oregon upland sites. Proportional representation of genera and functional groups varied among sites and over time within sites. Differences in community structure resulted from latitude, landscape position, year, season and disturbance regime. Implications for using ants to monitor ecosystem condition will be discussed.
Key words: ant, arid, communities, disturbance
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