The Cumberland Plateau supports diverse plant communities that vary greatly across cove and plateau habitats. Unfortunately, little is known about how terrestrial invertebrate communities vary across cove and plateau habitats and how disturbance affects these communities. To address this deficiency, we used the Ant Leaf Litter protocol to survey ant diversity on the southern Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. We surveyed forested habitats on top of the plateau surface and on the cove slopes, as well as sites that were logged within the past 6 yr. After surveying 14 sites we found 1) 10,130 ants representing 55 species from 21 genera and six subfamilies, including five new records for Tennessee; 2) significant differences in ant communities by habitat type; 3) that south-facing cove slope ant communities more closely resembled the ant community of plateau surface native forest sites than the ant community of north-facing cove slopes; 4) that recently logged sites hosted a distinct ant community (including hybrid imported fire ants) not found in undisturbed habitats; and 5) by resampling three sites surveyed 5 yr earlier, that the ant leaf litter protocol can be used to track ant community change over time. Ants thus proved to be an excellent system for examining invertebrate diversity across habitats on the Cumberland Plateau.
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