Eur. J. Entomol. 108 (3): 425-430, 2011 | 10.14411/eje.2011.054

Does the decline of red wood ants after clear-cutting favour epigeic arthropods?

Michal ZMIHORSKI
Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Wilcza 64, 00-679 Warsaw, Poland;

In forest ecosystems in the temperate and boreal zones in Europe, red wood ants (RWA, Formica rufa group) have a significant affect as predators and competitors in communities of ground-dwelling arthropods. Therefore, the spatiotemporal distribution and abundance of RWA affect the distribution of many other species. The hypothesis that a reduction in the abundance of RWA in clear-cut areas enables other arthropods to increase in abundance was tested. The study was conducted in NW Poland in 2007 and 2008. A total of 276 11 m plots were sampled and 1,696 individuals recorded. The probability of the occurrence of RWA decreased significantly towards the center of clear-cut areas and increased with increasing plant cover. The frequency of Lasius platythorax, Formica fusca and spiders in the plots significantly increased towards the edge of a clear-cut area. Moreover, the occurrence of L. platythorax was negatively associated with the presence of RWA, while that of the Myrmica species was positively associated. The effect of the distance to the edge of a clear-cut area seems to be much more pronounced than the effect of RWA. This suggests that the arthropods studied prefer habitats close to the edge that are utilized by RWA than RWA-free sites located in the centre of clear-cut areas.

Keywords: Hymenoptera, Formica, predation, competition, forest management, clear-cuts, intra-guild predation

Received: August 12, 2010; Accepted: January 11, 2011; Published: July 1, 2011

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