Ants in urban green spaces

In the recently published article “Habitat complexity affects functional traits and diversity of ant assemblages in urban green spaces (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)“, Sabine S. Nooten, Patrick Schultheiss, Rhiannon C. Rowe, Sarah L. Facey, and James M. Cook reveal that fewer ant species were found in simpler habitats. They suggest that vegetation structural complexity might act as an environmental filter influencing ant assemblages in terms of both species numbers and functional traits. Here, Sabine Nooten shares some pictures of the fieldwork.

A Photoblog contribution by Sabine Nooten

Doing field work on a golf course requires some precautions: You don’t want to get hit by a golf ball so you make yourself highly visible by wearing a yellow vest. Habitats on golf courses vary, here is an example of a highly managed area – the fairway and grassy rough. (© Jules Wright)

Here is an example of a nice coastal dune, where I was staking out a transect for ant sampling. (© Jules Wright)

Conveniently, we often got golf carts to carry our gear and drive from one sampling site to the next. . (© Jules Wright)

           

Unfortunately, golf course managers don’t look kindly on researchers wanting to dig holes in the turf for pitfall traps. We laid out baits instead. This bait has been successfully discovered by Crematogaster sp. ants. (© Jules Wright)

Typical golf course landscaping leads to habitats with very different vegetation structure. (© Sabine Nooten)

Field assistants get tired too. (© Sabine Nooten)

Species identification and trait measurements are very time consuming; many hours are being spent at the stereomicroscope. Luckily for us, Alan Andersen from the CSIRO allowed us to use the ant reference collection in Darwin, Australia, which is not a bad place to be. (© Patrick Schultheiss)

This one turned out to be from the genus Meranoplus. (© Sabine Nooten)

The fruit of many hours of labour – a box of pinned and identified ants. Aren’t they beautiful?! (© Sabine Nooten)

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