Eur. J. Entomol. 113: 524-527, 2016 | 10.14411/eje.2016.070

Size-related mortality during overwintering in cavity-nesting ant colonies (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

S³awomir MITRUS
Department of Biosystematics, Laboratory of Evolution and Animal Ecology, Opole University, Oleska 22, 45-052 Opole, Poland; e-mail: smitrus@uni.opole.pl

The ongoing process of climate change will result in higher temperatures during winter and therefore might increase the survival of overwintering invertebrates. However, the process may also lead to a reduction in snow cover and expose overwintering invertebrates to lower temperatures, which could result in higher mortality. During a field experiment, I investigated the effects of a reduction in snow cover on the survival of the ant Temnothorax crassispinus, which overwinters in nests located on the ground. Ant colonies differed in the survival rate of the workers in the experimental (from which snow cover was removed) and control group. In the control group, the survival rate was unrelated to colony size. However, in the experimental group, from which snow was removed after each heavy snowfall, worker survival was lower in small colonies. Such colony size related mortality may affect the fusion of colonies before winter.

Keywords: Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Temnothorax crassispinus, survival rate, snow cover, social insects, overwintering

Received: May 23, 2016; Accepted: October 13, 2016; Published online: October 27, 2016

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