Climate change is projected to increase the frequency of extreme events, such as flooding and droughts, which are anticipated to have negative effects on the biodiversity of primary producers and consequently the associated consumer communities. Here we assessed the effects of an extreme early summer flooding event in 2013 on ant colonies along an experimental gradient of plant species richness in a temperate grassland. We tested the effects of flood duration, plant species richness, plant cover, soil temperature, and soil porosity on ant occurrence and abundance. We found that the ant community was dominated by Lasius niger, whose presence and abundance after the flood was not significantly affected by any of the tested variables, including plant species richness. We found the same level of occupation by L. niger at the field site after the flood (surveyed in 2013) as before the flood (surveyed in 2006). Thus, there were no negative effects of the flood on the presence of L. niger in the plots. We can exclude recolonisation as a possible explanation of ant presence in the field site due to the short time period between the end of the flood and survey as well as to the absence of a spatial pattern in the occupancy data. Thus, the omnipresence of this dominant ant species 1 month after the flood indicates that the colonies were able to survive a 3-week summer flood. The observed ant species proved to be flood resistant despite experiencing such extreme climatic events very rarely.
Hertzog, L.R., Ebeling, A., Meyer, S.T., Eisenhauer, N., Fischer, C., Hildebrandt, A., et al. (2016), High Survival of Lasius niger during Summer Flooding in a European Grassland. PLoS ONE 11(11): e0152777.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0152777
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