n African Entomology - Ant assemblages in a poorly sampled part of the arid Nama Karoo : short communications




Ants are almost ubiquitous, exhibit high species diversity and are functionally important insects. Thanks to these traits and the large numbers easily collected by pitfall trapping, ants have been frequently used in biodiversity and conservation studies ( Samways 2005; Schoeman & Foord 2012) and as indicator species in rehabilitation projects (Majer & De Kock 1992; Andersen & Majer 2004; van Hamburg 2004; Netshilaphala 2005). Nevertheless, as with any indicator taxon, knowledge of distributions, patterns of seasonal activity and abundance is essential to make insightful inferences from differences in trap catches. Since the ant fauna of the arid regions of South Africa has not been well documented, and there have been few studies of the biology and ecology of dominant or important species, the use of ants as indicators is severely hampered by this lack of knowledge. In a country impacted heavily by various kinds of anthropogenic disturbance ( land clearing, exotic livestock grazing and locust control operations), it is vital that the limited knowledge base concerning the composition and habitat requirements of the endemic ant fauna be improved so they can be used more effectively as indicators of ecosystem health and disturbance.


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