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Harvard Forest Data Archive


Ant Assemblages in Hemlock Removal Experiment at Harvard Forest since 2003

Related Publications


  • hf118-01: ants (preview)
  • hf118-02: functional traits (preview)
  • hf118-03: R code for paper entitled "Are foundation species effects different than those of dominant species: A case study of ant assemblages in northeastern North American forests"


  • Lead: Aaron Ellison
  • Investigators:
  • Contact: Information Manager
  • Start date: 2003
  • End date: 2018
  • Status: ongoing
  • Location: Simes Tract (Harvard Forest)
  • Latitude: +42.47 to +42.48 degrees
  • Longitude: -72.22 to -72.21 degrees
  • Elevation: 200 to 240 meter
  • Datum: WGS84
  • Taxa: Dolichoderinae, Formicidae, Formicinae, Myrmicinae, Ponerinae, Aphaenogaster rudis, Tsuga canadensis
  • Release date: 2023
  • Language: English
  • EML file: knb-lter-hfr.118.35
  • DOI: digital object identifier
  • EDI: data package
  • DataONE: data package
  • Related links:
  • Study type: long-term measurement
  • Research topic: large experiments and permanent plot studies; physiological ecology, population dynamics and species interactions
  • LTER core area: population studies, disturbance patterns
  • Keywords: abundance, ants, hemlock, hemlock woolly adelgid, species composition
  • Abstract:

    Ants comprise a considerable amount of animal biomass in terrestrial ecosystems and play major roles in ecological processes ranging from seed dispersal to soil turnover. Invasion by the hemlock woolly adelgid will transform late-successional hemlock forests into earlier successional mixed hardwood - white pine forests or red-maple wetlands. Understanding how ant assemblages vary in different habitat types allows for predictions of how hemlock decline could alter the composition of ant assemblages, with implications for a wide range of ecosystem processes. As part of the Hemlock Removal Experiment at the Simes Tract, we annually monitor ant species composition and abundance.

  • Methods:

    A permanent 10 x 10-m grid with 25 equally-spaced sample stations was established near the center of each of the 8 plots in the Hemlock Removal Experiment. Pitfall traps (200-ml cups) are buried flush with the soil surface at each point and capped. Caps are removed for sampling - in June, July, and August in 2003-2005; July and August in 2006; and July only since 2007 - 10 ml of soapy water placed in each cup, and cups left open for 48 hours in dry weather. Trap contents are removed and caps replaced after 48 hours. After pitfall trapping is complete, baits (30 g of crumbled Pecan Sandies cookies on white index cards) are placed at the 25 points and allowed to accumulate ants for 1 hour. Representative individuals are collected from each bait station. Three 3-L litter samples are collected from random locations in the large plots, outside of the sample grid, and sifted in the field. Any ants found in the sifted litter are collected. Plots are walked haphazardly for 1 person-hour and additional foraging ants encountered are collected.

  • Organization: Harvard Forest. 324 North Main Street, Petersham, MA 01366, USA. Phone (978) 724-3302. Fax (978) 724-3595.

  • Project: The Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program examines ecological dynamics in the New England region resulting from natural disturbances, environmental change, and human impacts. (ROR).

  • Funding: National Science Foundation LTER grants: DEB-8811764, DEB-9411975, DEB-0080592, DEB-0620443, DEB-1237491, DEB-1832210.

  • Use: This dataset is released to the public under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (No Rights Reserved). Please keep the dataset creators informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset should include proper acknowledgement.

  • License: Creative Commons Zero v1.0 Universal (CC0-1.0)

  • Citation: Ellison A. 2023. Ant Assemblages in Hemlock Removal Experiment at Harvard Forest since 2003. Harvard Forest Data Archive: HF118 (v.35). Environmental Data Initiative:

Detailed Metadata

hf118-01: ants

  1. year: year
  2. date: date
  3. block: block
    • Valley: plots 1-3, 8
    • Ridge: plots 4-7
  4. plot: plot number
  5. treatment: treatment type
    • Girdled: girdled
    • Logged: logged
    • HemlockControl: hemlock control
    • HardwoodControl: hardwood control
  6. moose.cage: location of grid with respect to moose exclosure
    • Exterior: outside of moose exclosure
    • Interior: inside of moose exclosure
  7. trap.type: trap type
    • Bait: from bait stations
    • Hand: hand-collected
    • Litter: from litter sample
    • Pitfall: pitfall cup
  8. trap.num: applies only to pitfall cups
  9. genus: genus of ant
  10. species: species of ant
  11. code: species code (combination of genus and species)
  12. abundance: how many (unit: number / missing value: NA)

hf118-02: functional traits

  1. species.code: ant species code
  2. subfamily: ant subfamily
  3. genus: ant generic epithet
  4. species: ant specific epithet
  5. hl: head length. We used trait definitions from Del Toro et al. (2015) and filled in missing species’ data with information from Ellison et al. (unit: millimeter / missing value: NA)
  6. rel: eye length relative to body size (unit: millimeter / missing value: NA)
  7. rll: femur length relative to body size (unit: millimeter / missing value: NA)
  8. colony.size: size of colony for each species
    • Small: <100 workers
    • Medium: 100-1000 workers
    • Large: 1000-5000 workers
    • Very Large: >5000 workers
  9. feeding.preference: feeding preference for each species
    • Predatory: predatory
    • Granivore: granivore
    • Honeydew: honeydew
    • Omnivore: omnivore
  10. nest.substrate: nest substrate
    • Soil: soil
    • Wood: wood
    • Grass: grass
    • Acorns: acorns
  11. primary.habitat: primary habitat
    • Open: open habitat
    • Conifer forests: conifer forests
    • Forests: forests (either coniferous or deciduous)
    • Edge: edge habitat
    • Bogs: bogs
    • Deciduous forests: deciduous forests
    • Subterranean: subterranean
  12. secondary.habitat: secondary habitat associations
    • Wet: wet soils
    • Sandy: sandy soils
    • Edge: edge habitat
    • Litter: exclusively leaf litter
    • Grassy: exclusively grassy areas
    • Rocky: rocky soils
  13. seed.disperser: whether or not a seed dispersing species
    • N: no
    • Y: yes
  14. slavemaker.sp: whether or not a slavemaking species
    • N: no
    • Y: yes
  15. behavior: classifications based on behavioral interactions with other ants
    • neutral: neutral
    • dominant: competitive dominant
    • submissive: submissive
  16. biogeographic.affinity: biogeographic affinity based on available occurrence records
    • widespread: widespread (distributed throughout the entire extent of eastern North America)
    • cold climate: cold climate (distributed only in the northern extent of eastern North America)
    • warm climate: warm climate (distributed only in the southern extent of eastern North America)
  17. source: where trait information was found. Full citations for literature are as follows: Del Toro, I., R.R. Silva, and A.M. Ellison. 2015. Predicated impacts of climatic change on ant functional diversity and distributions in eastern North American forests. Diversity and Distributions 21:781-791; Ellison, A.M., N.J. Gotelli, G. Alpert, and E.J. Farnsworth. 2012. A field guide to the ants of New England. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

hf118-03: R code for paper entitled "Are foundation species effects different than those of dominant species: A case study of ant assemblages in northeastern North American forests"

  • Compression: none
  • Format: R script
  • Type: script