Document Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Embargo Period

6-4-2015

Degree Program

Environmental Conservation

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded

2015

Month Degree Awarded

February

Advisor Name

Aaron

Advisor Middle Initial

M

Advisor Last Name

Ellison

Co-advisor Name

Paul

Co-advisor Middle Initial

R

Co-advisor Last Name

Sievert

Abstract

Ants are ecologically important, environmentally sensitive, widespread, and abundant, yet ant assemblages of many habitats remain poorly understood. Ants in inland barrens of New York State (NY) barely have been studied, but the limited data suggest such habitats are likely to support uncommon ant species and high species density for the region. To increase knowledge of these assemblages, I systematically collected ants from three inland barrens systems in NY, to create species lists and measure species density. I also investigated how hiking trails — a common man-made disturbance — may be impacting ant assemblages in these early-successional, disturbance-dependent ecosystems. My data strongly indicate uncommonly high densities of ant species in NY pine barrens, including the most northern known occurrences of some species, and show that ant assemblage composition and species density are altered on hiking trails relative to managed barrens habitat bordering the trails. I conclude that monitoring ants on hiking trails could provide valuable information, particularly on disturbance-tolerant species, and an opportunity for visitor participation and citizen science programs that could detect additional rare species.

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