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Ellison Abstract- Ellison 2012 NEN

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Ellison, A. M. 2012. The ants of Nantucket: unexpectedly high biodiversity in an anthropogenic landscape. Northeastern Naturalist (in press).


This first comprehensive assessment of the ant fauna of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts revealed that 43% of New England ant species and 70% of New England ant genera occur on an island occupying only 0.07% of New England’s land area. Ants collected by four different research groups between 2000 and 2009 included 32,158 individual ants (2,911 incidences) from 384 spatially and temporally distinct samples representing 14 different vegetation community types. The majority of the ant species were collected from anthropogenically-derived and maintained sandplain grasslands, sandplain heathlands, and scrub oak shrublands. These three communities are state-ranked S1 community types; the lower state-ranked communities of beaches and sand dunes, bogs, salt marshes, and forest fragments had distinct ant assemblages with much lower species richness. The large number of samples described here, from a wide range of vegetation community types, expands the known list of Nantucket ant species more than three-fold and provides a baseline for future assessment of the effects of ongoing, long-term ecosystem management on Nantucket. 

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