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Species diversity and dominance-richness relationships for ground and arboreal ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) assemblages in Namibian desert, saltpan, and savannah

Campbell, H., Fellowes, M. D. E. ORCID: and Cook, J. M. (2015) Species diversity and dominance-richness relationships for ground and arboreal ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) assemblages in Namibian desert, saltpan, and savannah. Myrmecological News, 21. pp. 37-47. ISSN 1994-4136

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Namibia has high levels of invertebrate endemism, but biodiversity research has been geographically and taxonomically limited. In South African savannah, species richness of ground-foraging ant assemblages is regulated by dominant ant species, but this pattern has not been tested in other arid environments. In this study, we provide a description of ant diversity at baits in three different Namibian habitats (savannah, saltpan and desert), and we test the relationship between ant dominance and richness for ground-foraging and arboreal species. Forty-two ant species were collected in this study, with species richness being highest in the saltpan, followed by savannah and then desert. Ant assemblages were most similar between the savannah and desert, due to shared arboreal species. Similarity between savannah and saltpan ant assemblages was due to an overlap in ground-foraging species. Ground ants were more diverse than arboreal ants, and several species were observed at baits for both strata, although the degree of overlap varied with habitat type. The dominance-richness relationship varied depending on habitat and sampling strata. We found a unimodal relationship in the saltpan, but not in the savannah. For ground ants the relationship was logarithmic, with increasing abundance of dominants leading to decreasing overall species richness. However, no trend was observed for the arboreal ant assemblage. In the desert, low ant abundance meant that we were unable to assign species dominance, possibly due to reduced foraging activity caused by high temperatures. The lack of a consistent dominance-richness trend across assemblages may be the result of varying degrees of environmental stress or competition. Our study is a preliminary description of diversity and dominance in Namibia, and we hope it stimulates further research on ant assemblages in arid regions of Africa.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:38908
Publisher:Austrian Society of Entomofaunistics (ÖGEF)


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