Structure of ant assemblages in Western Ghats, India

role of habitat, disturbance and introduced species

Ajay Narendra*, Heloise Gibb, Tm Musthak Ali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Habitat fragmentation, anthropogenic disturbance and the introduction of invasive species are factors thought to structure ant assemblages. To understand responses of the ant community to changes in the environment, ants are commonly categorised into functional groups, a scheme developed and based on Australian ants. Behaviourally dominant and aggressive ants of the dominant dolichoderinae functional group have been suggested to structure the ant assemblages in arid and semi-arid habitats of these regions. Given the limited geographical distribution of dominant dolichoderinae, it is crucial to determine the responses of the ant community to changes in the environment in their absence. This study addresses this less studied aspect by considering the associations of ants of Western Ghats, India, with habitat, anthropogenic disturbance and introduced ants. We determined how ant functional groups respond to these factors in this region, where dominant dolichoderines are naturally absent, and whether responses are consistent with predictions derived from the ant functional group scheme. This study provides new information on ant assemblages in a little-studied region. As in other parts of the world, ant assemblages in Western Ghats were strongly influenced by habitat and disturbance, with different functional groups associated with different habitats and levels of disturbance. No functional group showed evidence of being influenced by the abundance of introduced species. In addition, predictions of negative interactions between functional groups were not supported. Our findings suggest that abiotic factors are universal determinants of ant assemblage structure, but that competitive interactions may not be.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-141
Number of pages10
JournalInsect Conservation and Diversity
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Abiotic factors
  • Formicidae
  • Functional groups
  • Sharavathi river basin

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