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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: An Evaluation of Sampling Methods and Species Richness Estimators for Ants in Upland Ecosystems in Florida

Authors
item King, Joshua - FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
item Porter, Sanford

Submitted to: Environmental Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 12, 2005
Publication Date: December 15, 2005
Citation: King, J.R., Porter, S.D. 2005. An Evaluation of Sampling Methods and Species Richness Estimators for Ants in Upland Ecosystems in Florida. Environmental Entomology. 54(6): 1566-1578.

Interpretive Summary: The growing emphasis on including invertebrates in biodiversity conservation efforts has prompted an increase in the study of invertebrate communities. Invertebrate sampling methods and associated limitations remain poorly understood for a variety of habitats. Researchers from the Department of Entomology at the University of Florida and the USDA-ARS, Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, FL used four methods (pitfall traps, litter extraction, baits, and hand collecting) to sample ants in five upland ecosystems in Florida. They evaluated the efficiency of these methods for sampling ant species richness and relative abundance. They also evaluated the performance of four species richness estimators. A total of 3774 species occurrences were distributed among 1732 samples which contained 94 species from 31 genera. Twenty unique species and ten duplicate species were collected. Sampling captured about 66% of the regional fauna and about 70 - 90% of species within the ecosystems studied. Combinations of sampling methods were much more effective for assessing species richness. None of the species richness estimators were stable and their estimates should be viewed with trepidation. The results of this study provide support for the use of multiple methods for thoroughly sampling ant assemblages in temperate and subtropical ecosystems. Results of this study will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of scientists and wildlife managers needing to sample ant community structure and diversity.

Technical Abstract: The growing emphasis on including invertebrates in global biodiversity conservation efforts has prompted an increase in the study of invertebrate assemblages. Invertebrate sampling designs and the bias of individual methods, nevertheless remain poorly understood for a variety of habitats. We used a structured inventory approach to sampling ants in five upland ecosystems in Florida. We evaluated the efficiency of both quantitative and non-quantitative methods for sampling ant species richness and relative abundance (pitfall traps, litter extraction, baits, and hand collecting). We also evaluated the performance of four species richness estimators: the area under the fitted lognormal distribution, the asymptote of the Michaelis-Menten equation fit to the species accumulation curve, and two non-parametric estimators (an incidence-based coverage estimator, ICE, and a jackknife estimator, Jack2). A total of 3774 species occurrences were distributed among 1732 samples which contained 94 species from 31 genera. Twenty unique species and ten duplicate species were collected. Sampling captured ~ 66% of the regional fauna and ~ 70 - 90% of species within the ecosystems studied. Combinations of sampling methods were much more effective for assessing species richness. Individual methods were complementary and sampled only part of the entire assemblage. Non-parametric estimators performed better than lognormal fitting, and Michaelis-Menten curve extrapolation. However, none of the estimators were stable and their estimates should be viewed with trepidation. The results of this study provide support for the use of the ALL protocol for thoroughly sampling ant assemblages in temperate and subtropical ecosystems. Furthermore, these results indicate that even in relatively species poor (when compared to the tropics) temperate and subtropical regions a large sampling effort that includes multiple sampling methods is the most effective manner of thoroughly sampling an ant assemblage.

Last Modified: 9/20/2014
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