Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate Change Affects Ants and Biodiversity

08.11.2011
Some people may consider them pests, but ants are key to many plants’ survival.

In the eastern US, ants are integral to plant biodiversity because they help disperse seeds. But ants' ability to perform this vital function, and others, may be jeopardized by climate change, according to Nate Sanders, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Sanders and his collaborators have received a grant for nearly $2 million from the National Science Foundation to examine the cascading effects of climate change on ant communities and the ecosystem functions they provide.

"Ants are critically important to most ecosystems," Sanders said. "They eat other insects, circulate nutrients, increase turnover in the soil, and move seeds around."

Sanders and his colleagues are testing the effects of climate change on ants by heating up patches of forest and tracking how the ants respond. Inside Duke Forest in North Carolina and Harvard Forest in Massachusetts lie twelve five-meter wide, open-top chambers. Air temperature is incrementally increased by half a degree Celsius in each chamber for a total of a six-degree changes and ant behavior observed.

The researchers, led by Katie Stuble from UT and Shannon Pelini at Harvard Forest, noticed dramatic changes in the ants' daily activity in each chamber.

"If the temperature increases by just a half a degree Celsius, the most important seed-dispersing ants basically shut down," said Sanders. "They do not go out and forage and do the things they normally do."

Stuble observed that, on average, the ants foraged for about ten hours a day at normal temperatures. When temperatures were raised just a half a degree, the ants stayed in their nests underground and foraged just an hour.

The absence of ants' seed dispersal and nutrient cycling could have profound influence on biodiversity. For instance, it is believed that more than half of the plants in the forest understory of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park rely on ants for seed dispersal. Ants are found in ecosystems everywhere but in Antarctica and Iceland.

The researchers' goal is to provide information about the effects of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystems.

"We know that climate change is happening," Sanders said. "Lots of models make predictions about how biodiversity is going to respond. It will either respond by adapting, moving or going extinct. If you can't keep up with climate change, you will go extinct."

Sanders and his team will collect data through 2015. He is collaborating with colleagues from Harvard University, North Carolina State University, and University of Vermont. The project began in 2007 with funding from the Department of Energy. The team's papers can be read at http://web.utk.edu/~nsanders/.

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460, wheins@utk.edu)
Nate Sanders (865-974-5231, nsanders@utk.edu)

Whitney Heins | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.utk.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

nachricht 100 % Organic Farming in Bhutan – a Realistic Target?
15.06.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>