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1 May 2012 Does Cattle Grazing Affect Ant Abundance and Diversity in Temperate Grasslands?
Amanda C. Schmidt, Lauchlan H. Fraser, Cameron N. Carlyle, Eleanor R. L. Bassett
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Half of the world's land base is grazed by domesticated livestock. Because of the important functional role of ants in grasslands, it is important to understand the effect of livestock grazing on ant abundance and diversity. The objectives of this study were to examine the effect of cattle grazing and site productivity on the abundance, species richness, and species diversity of ants in Lac du Bois Grasslands Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada. We hypothesized that the measured ant variables would be lowest in grazed areas and at low site productivity. Pitfall trapping was conducted at four sites: two at each low and high site productivity levels. At each site an ungrazed (fenced exclosure) and grazed transect was sampled during May, July, and August of 2008. Captured ants were preserved in ethanol and identified. Eight genuses of ants were collected: Tapinoma, Camponotus, Formica, Lasius, Aphaenogaster, Myrmica, Solinopsis, and Temnotharox. The mean number of ants per pitfall was higher at high site productivity sites that were grazed (15.10 ± 2.96 SE) compared to high productivity sites ungrazed (3.28 ± 0.47 SE); grazing at low productivity reduced numbers of ants from 5.07 (± 0.70 SE) to 2.20 (± 0.39 SE) (F  =  21.806; P < 0.001). Tapinoma sessile and A. occidentalis had the greatest numbers in the pitfall traps. Species richness (F  =  23.330, P < 0.001) and diversity (F  =  11.764, P  =  0.001) followed a similar trend. Because productivity and cattle grazing affect ant diversity and abundance, and ants impact ecosystem functioning, these factors should be considered in management of grasslands.

Society for Range Management
Amanda C. Schmidt, Lauchlan H. Fraser, Cameron N. Carlyle, and Eleanor R. L. Bassett "Does Cattle Grazing Affect Ant Abundance and Diversity in Temperate Grasslands?," Rangeland Ecology and Management 65(3), 292-298, (1 May 2012).
Received: 16 June 2011; Accepted: 1 February 2011; Published: 1 May 2012

semiarid grasslands
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