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Research article2003Peer reviewed

Effects of Formica ants on soil fauna-results from a short-term exclusion and a long-term natural experiment

Lenoir L, Bengtsson J, Persson T


Wood ants (Formica spp.) were hypothesised to affect the composition and greatly reduce the abundance of large-sized soil fauna by predation. This was tested in two ways. Firstly, a 4-year-long experimental study was carried out in a mixed forest. Five ant-free 1.3 m(2) 2 plots were created by fenced exclosures within an ant territory. Five nearby plots had fences with entrances for the ants. In addition, five non-fenced control plots were selected. Soil fauna (e.g. Coleoptera, Diptera larvae, Collembola and Araneae) was sampled during the summers of 1997-2000. The soil fauna was affected by the exclosures but there was no detectable effect of ants on the soil fauna. Secondly, soil fauna was studied within a large-scale natural experiment in which the long-term (30 years) effects of red wood ants could be assessed inside and outside ant territories. This long-term natural experiment revealed no significant effects of ants on the abundance or composition of soil fauna. The results from the two studies indicate that the effects of wood ants on soil fauna are fairly small. The hypothesis that wood ants are key-stone predators on soil fauna could, thus, not be supported

Published in

2003, Volume: 134, number: 3, pages: 423-430

      SLU Authors

    • Persson, Tryggve

      • Department of Ecology and Environmental Research, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Bengtsson, Jan

        • Department of Ecology and Crop Production Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
        • Lenoir, Lisette

          • Department of Ecology and Environmental Research, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

        Publication identifier


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