Canopy connectivity enhances arboreal ant communities

Monday, November 17, 2014: 8:48 AM
Portland Ballroom 253 (Oregon Convention Center)
Benjamin Adams , Department of Biology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Stephen Yanoviak , Department of Biology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Ants are an integral and conspicuous component of most terrestrial ecosystems, especially tropical rain forests. Their ecological roles and the factors that influence their diversity at ground level are well documented; however, our understanding of canopy dwelling ant communities is limited. Specifically, ants may rely on lianas (woody vines) to provide connectivity among trees. We surveyed the ants living in 40 Dipteryx panamensis trees in the Barro Colorado Natural Monument in Panama during the summer of 2013 and 2014 using baiting and opportunistic hand collections. Lianas were completely removed from ten of the trees in 2013. Connectivity was artificially increased by adding climbing ropes to ten trees in 2014. Ant species richness was significantly lower in liana removal trees in 2014 compared with temporal and spatial controls. Communities will be resurveyed in 2015 to determine the effect of the artificial increase in connectivity. In collaboration with a parallel liana removal project, partial liana removals (zero, 50, and 100%) were conducted on several tree species within the Monument. Results from this experiment are ongoing.