We at TERN acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians throughout Australia, New Zealand and all nations. We honour their profound connections to land, water, biodiversity and culture and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
This work was funded by the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN), an Australian Government National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) project.
Ants are Australia’s dominant faunal group in terms of biomass and energy flow. They occupy all trophic levels, act as ecosystem engineers, feature in many mutualistic interactions with plants, and are a key food resource for many vertebrates. Ants are also Australia’s best studied insect group in terms of biogeography and community dynamics. They are the most widely used invertebrate bio-indicators in environmental assessment and monitoring.
Ant sampling: Twenty pitfall traps were placed in a standard grid (4 x 5) with 10 m spacing within the core 1 ha vegetation plot in permanent positions marked with PVC tubes (or inverted traps). If the position on the grid was occupied by a tree or rock then the trap was placed adjacent to it. Trapping was conducted over 3 days with traps sealed with screw cap at the end of the period. Any dirt, plant material or other debris was removed as contaminating material can stain the ants if left with them for extended periods. Tubes were stored in the dark as light will cause colours to fade and the cuticle or integument will deteriorate over time, greatly reducing the usefulness of the material for taxonomic studies and making identifications difficult or impossible. Traps were buried with lips completely flush with the soil surface. Sealed pitfall traps were sent to a central processing laboratory where contents are transferred to ethanol for long term storage. Non-ant by-catch was stored for future reference. Ant surveys were conducted in 2014 and 2015. Ant abundance and incidence was pooled at the site level for each year.
Ant species identification: Ant specimens were identified and curated at the CSIRO's Tropical Ecosystems Research Centre in Darwin by Dr Alan Andersen.