Museum of Comparative Zoology
26 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Ants as Indicator Species for Effects of Human Land Use
Delivered at 2008 Boston Harbor Islands Science Symposium.
Ants have been shown to be a relatively good indicator of ecosystem type. They are small, numerous, and except for their reproductive phase, are more or less sedentary. Ant samples collected over the last four years of the ATBI (All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory) project were compared on an island-by-island basis to compare species richness. The "actual" number of ant species present was compared to a model-generated "expected" value based on island area. Differences were then compared to boat traffic to and from the islands, the number of visitors, proximity to land, and the type of land use specified in the Boston Harbor Islands general management plan. Results could be useful in identifying areas of heavy use on islands and comparing the success of the management plans on the islands.