Ants and Environmental Monitoring
Ants are especially common
in Australia. They occur in large numbers in all habitats and all
regions. Ant communities change significantly when environmental conditions
are altered. As a consequence, the monitoring of ant communities has
become an important component of environmental inventories. A wide
range of government and non-government agencies and private companies
use the monitoring of ant communities to assist them in making decisions
about managing the environment.
It is well known that bush
fires can cause significant damage to the environment, but properly
managed fire can actually improve conditions for many plants and animals.
To determine optimal fire regimes and thus protect the environment,
extensive studies have been completed to determine the effects of
different burning practices. Ants have proven very useful in determining
the effects of fire and thus in developing management strategies which
minimise its impact. For additional information, see Andersen (1991,
1993) and Majer (1990).
The monitoring of ant communities
has proven to be a useful tool when determining management strategies
or while evaluating the recovery of areas after severe disturbance.
For example, inventories of the ants present in a minesite before
disturbance have proved to be very useful in establishing the baseline
conditions for successful restoration. Ants also play an important
role in monitoring ecosystems and in determining priorities with regard
to conservation and sustainable use.
Literature Cited/Additional Reading
A. N. 1991. Responses
of ground-foraging ant communities to three experimental fire regimes
in a savanna forest of tropical Australia. Biotropica. 23 : 575–585.
Andersen, A. N. 1993. Ants as indicators of restoration success
at a uranium mine in tropical Australia. Restoration Ecology. 1 : 156–167.
Majer, J. D. 1990. The role of ants in land reclamation seeding
operations. pp. 544–554 in Vander Meer, R. K., Jaffe, K., Cedeño, A.
Applied Myrmecology: A world perspective. Boulder, Colorado : Westview
Press. 741 pp.