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  • Ant Distribution and Abundance in New England since 1990
  • Ellison, Aaron
  • Gotelli, Nicholas
  • 2018
  • The Ants of New England project is a multi-investigator, multi-year effort to document the occurrence, distribution, and relative abundance of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the six New England states (Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine). The project was initiated in 1999 as a more narrowly-focused effort aimed at determining ant species diversity in bogs and surrounding forests in Massachusetts and Vermont using standard methods (pitfall trapping, timed baiting, litter collection, and visual searching; Gotelli and Ellison 2002, Ellison et al. 2002). Subsequent detailed analysis of collection methods revealed that reliable estimates of ant species occurrences, distribution, and abundance in this geographic region could be obtained using only visual searching and litter collection (Ellison et al. 2007). Following this analysis, we carried out an initial survey of ant occurrences, distribution, and abundances in Massachusetts in 2007. The 2007 survey was focused on ants living in natural community types as defined by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (Swain and Kearsley 2001) and located in properties of high conservation and education value owned by Massachusetts Audubon Society and The Trustees of Reservations. The primary goals for the 2007 survey were: (1) To describe and quantify patterns of distribution and abundance of ants across Massachusetts and to determine the regional "species pool" of ants that could ground local studies on ants (for example, the Warm Ants project at Harvard Forest). (2) To provide a baseline from which to assess long-term effects of climate change on species distributions. (3) To develop a set of indicator species to be used to determine efficacy of ongoing and proposed management strategies and to reveal effects of future disturbances and habitat degradation. (4) To compare with ongoing or planned quantitative surveys of birds and plants at sites owned by conservation partners (e.g., MAS, TTOR, NCF). (5) To lay the groundwork and develop capacity within partnering organizations for future sampling of additional sites and of the same sites in future years. As the Ant of Massachusetts project became more widely known, additional specimens were contributed by individuals working throughout the region. A longitudinal series (2004 - present) of collections of ants from pitfall traps on Nantucket Island was added to the database by Scott Smyers and Mark Mello. Volunteers with Friends of Mount Wachusett and the Massachusetts Audubon Society regularly contribute additional specimens. Additional specimens have accrued through regional BioBlitzes and through a Research Experience for Teachers collaboration with the J. R. Briggs Elementary School in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. In 2009, the PIs decided to expand the scope of the project to the six New England states. This expansion coincided with a regional effort to document ant diversity in bogs throughout New England (supported by an NSF award to the PIs) and the digitization of geographical records of 50 common New England ant species in the collection of Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) by Dave Lubertazzi. Work is now underway to digitize records of the remaining New England ant species housed in the MCZ collections; to identify and digitize records of New England ant species housed in other major museums (American Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution); to make field collections in parts of New England that are poorly represented in museum collections. Data collected through the end of 2011 (datafile hf147-12) were used to create collection maps for A Field Guide to the Ants of New England, written by Aaron M. Ellison, Nicholas J. Gotelli, Elizabeth J. Farnsworth, and Gary D. Alpert, and published by Yale University Press. New ant species records for New England, the Mid-Atlantic States, and the Maritime Provinces of Canada accumulated since publication of A Field Guide to the Ants of New England are recorded in hf147-18.
  • N: 47.5      S: 40.5      E: -66.9      W: -74.3
  • This dataset is released to the public under Creative Commons license CC BY (Attribution). Please keep the designated contact person informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation or collaboration with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset must include proper acknowledgement.
  • doi:10.6073/pasta/3493424abf9fc36eac7b62b732e4ea55
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