Responses of ant communities to disturbance

Five principles for understanding the disturbance dynamics of a globally dominant faunal group

Alan N. Andersen

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    1. Ecological disturbance is fundamental to the dynamics of biological communities, yet a conceptual framework for understanding the responses of faunal communities to disturbance remains elusive. Here, I propose five principles for understanding the disturbance dynamics of ants—a globally dominant faunal group that is widely used as bioindicators in land management, which appear to have wide applicability to other taxa.

    2. These principles are as follows: (1) The most important effects of habitat disturbance on ants are typically indirect, through its effects on habitat structure, microclimate, resource availability and competitive interactions; (2) habitat openness is a key driver of variation in ant communities; (3) ant species responses to disturbance are to a large degree determined by their responses to habitat openness; (4) the same disturbance will have different effects on ants in different habitats, because of different impacts on habitat openness; and (5) ant community responses to the same disturbance will vary according to ant functional composition and biogeographical history in relation to habitat openness.

    3. I illustrate these principles using results primarily from studies of ant responses to fire, a dominant agent of disturbance globally, to provide a common disturbance currency for comparative analysis.

    4. I argue that many of the principles also apply to other faunal groups and so can be considered as general ecological “laws.” As is the case for ants, many impacts of habitat disturbance on other faunal groups are fundamentally related to habitat openness, the effects of disturbance on it and the functional composition of species in relation to it.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)350-362
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
    Volume88
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

    Fingerprint

    ant
    Formicidae
    disturbance
    habitats
    habitat
    microclimate
    land management
    community response
    habitat structure
    currency
    resource availability
    bioindicator
    conceptual framework
    species diversity
    history
    effect

    Cite this

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    title = "Responses of ant communities to disturbance: Five principles for understanding the disturbance dynamics of a globally dominant faunal group",
    abstract = "1. Ecological disturbance is fundamental to the dynamics of biological communities, yet a conceptual framework for understanding the responses of faunal communities to disturbance remains elusive. Here, I propose five principles for understanding the disturbance dynamics of ants—a globally dominant faunal group that is widely used as bioindicators in land management, which appear to have wide applicability to other taxa. 2. These principles are as follows: (1) The most important effects of habitat disturbance on ants are typically indirect, through its effects on habitat structure, microclimate, resource availability and competitive interactions; (2) habitat openness is a key driver of variation in ant communities; (3) ant species responses to disturbance are to a large degree determined by their responses to habitat openness; (4) the same disturbance will have different effects on ants in different habitats, because of different impacts on habitat openness; and (5) ant community responses to the same disturbance will vary according to ant functional composition and biogeographical history in relation to habitat openness. 3. I illustrate these principles using results primarily from studies of ant responses to fire, a dominant agent of disturbance globally, to provide a common disturbance currency for comparative analysis. 4. I argue that many of the principles also apply to other faunal groups and so can be considered as general ecological “laws.” As is the case for ants, many impacts of habitat disturbance on other faunal groups are fundamentally related to habitat openness, the effects of disturbance on it and the functional composition of species in relation to it.",
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    Responses of ant communities to disturbance : Five principles for understanding the disturbance dynamics of a globally dominant faunal group. / Andersen, Alan N.

    In: Journal of Animal Ecology, Vol. 88, No. 3, 03.2019, p. 350-362.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

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    AB - 1. Ecological disturbance is fundamental to the dynamics of biological communities, yet a conceptual framework for understanding the responses of faunal communities to disturbance remains elusive. Here, I propose five principles for understanding the disturbance dynamics of ants—a globally dominant faunal group that is widely used as bioindicators in land management, which appear to have wide applicability to other taxa. 2. These principles are as follows: (1) The most important effects of habitat disturbance on ants are typically indirect, through its effects on habitat structure, microclimate, resource availability and competitive interactions; (2) habitat openness is a key driver of variation in ant communities; (3) ant species responses to disturbance are to a large degree determined by their responses to habitat openness; (4) the same disturbance will have different effects on ants in different habitats, because of different impacts on habitat openness; and (5) ant community responses to the same disturbance will vary according to ant functional composition and biogeographical history in relation to habitat openness. 3. I illustrate these principles using results primarily from studies of ant responses to fire, a dominant agent of disturbance globally, to provide a common disturbance currency for comparative analysis. 4. I argue that many of the principles also apply to other faunal groups and so can be considered as general ecological “laws.” As is the case for ants, many impacts of habitat disturbance on other faunal groups are fundamentally related to habitat openness, the effects of disturbance on it and the functional composition of species in relation to it.

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