Ants of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in arid Australia: Diversity, faunistic composition and habitat associations

Alan N. Andersen, Jodie Hayward, François Brassard

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Abstract

Inland Australia supports by far the world's most diverse arid-adapted ant fauna, but there are no published studies of regional ant faunas from the central arid zone. Here we describe the ants collected by pitfall trapping at 22 sites in World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (300 mm mean annual rainfall), representing all major vegetation types from spinifex grasslands to eucalypt woodlands. A total of 154 (mostly undescribed) ant species from 26 genera were recorded, with the richest genera being Melophorus (30 species), Monomorium (26), Iridomyrmex (18) and Camponotus (12). The pattern of species accumulation suggests that many more species remain to be collected from the Park, and we estimate that the total fauna consists of around 300 species. The most abundant ants were species of Iridomyrmex (collectively contributing 76% of all ants collected), as is the case throughout arid Australia. Species of Monomorium and Melophorus were also highly abundant. No exotic species were recorded. Ant species composition was strongly related to vegetation type, with a particular distinction between the various grasslands on one hand, and woodlands on the other. Unexpectedly, species richness was higher in structurally simple spinifex grasslands than in eucalypt woodlands. The woodland fauna lacks many taxa characteristic of such habitats in similarly arid regions of southern Australia, which we attribute to remoteness and small patch size. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park supports an extremely diverse ant fauna, but surveys of other areas are required for an improved understanding of patterns of ant biodiversity in Australia's central arid zone.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105178
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Volume222
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024

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