Skip to Main Content
Social insects dominate eastern US temperate hardwood forest macroinvertebrate communiteis in warmer regionsAuthor(s): Joshua R. King; Robert J. Warren; Mark A. Bradford
Source: PLoS ONE
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Southern Research Station
View PDF (806.82 KB)
DescriptionEarthworms, termites, and ants are common macroinvertebrates in terrestrial environments, although for most ecosystems data on their abundance and biomass is sparse. Quantifying their areal abundance is a critical first step in understanding their functional importance. We intensively sampled dead wood, litter, and soil in eastern US temperate hardwood forests at four sites, which span much of the latitudinal range of this ecosystem, to estimate the abundance and biomass m−2 of individuals in macroinvertebrate communities. Macroinvertebrates, other than ants and termites, differed only slightly among sites in total abundance and biomass and they were similar in ordinal composition. Termites and ants were the most abundant macroinvertebrates in dead wood, and ants were the most abundant in litter and soil. Ant abundance and biomass m−2 in the southernmost site (Florida) were among the highest values recorded for ants in any ecosystem. Ant and termite biomass and abundance varied greatly across the range, from <1% of the total macroinvertebrate abundance (in the northern sites) to >95% in the southern sites. Our data reveal a pronounced shift to eusocial insect dominance with decreasing latitude in a temperate ecosystem. The extraordinarily high social insect relative abundance outside of the tropics lends support to existing data suggesting that ants, along with termites, are globally the most abundant soil macroinvertebrates, and surpass the majority of other terrestrial animal (vertebrate and invertebrate) groups in biomass m−2. Our results provide a foundation for improving our understanding of the functional role of social insects in regulating ecosystem processes in temperate forest.
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
CitationKing, Joshua R.; Warren, Robert J.; Bradford, Mark A. 2013. Social insects dominate eastern US temperate hardwood forest macroinvertebrate communiteis in warmer regions. PLOS ONE. 8(10): e75843. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075843
- Contrasting effects of insect exclusion on wood loss in a temperate forest
- Availability and abundance of prey for the red-cockaded woodpecker
- Relationship of coarse woody debris to arthropod availability for red-cockaded woodpeckers and other bark-foraging birds on loblolly pine boles
XML: View XML