Ecology and evolution of ants, mainly in tropical ecosystems.
This project represents a comprehensive study of the ecology and evolution of tropical ants at the community, species and population levels. It is based on unique data set of samples collected from 17 sites in New Guinea and northern Australia. The study examines species distributional data combined with their population and species phylogenetic relationships across a large regional spatial scale. We used several different standartized collection methods (e.g. Wincler extractors, hand colecting, pitfall-traps, baits, searching of fallen trees) resulting to a broad focus on cryptic, terrestrial and arboreal ant species.
The website dedicated to providing information about the systematics and ecology of the New Guinean ant fauna is available on www.newguineants.org. Our aim is to facilitate access to photographs of specimens, their nests and habitats and provide resources for better knowledge of Melanesian ants.
The canopies of tropical forest trees still belongs to the least known natural habitats in the world. However, arboreal insect species are rarely studied due to the limited access to the canopy and methods as canopy fogging. Its known that ants represent the majority of arthropod biomass in tropical forest canopies. Here, we use three different methodological approachs a) single rope technique b) searching for the ant nests and foragers in fallen trees and c) construction of a special canopy ant bait stations to manipulate their activity in trees. Aim of the project is to get a good picture about the arboreal ant diversity and activity and to study their role in ant-herbivore-plant food-webs in tropical forests. For the first results of the project see:
Janda M., Konecna M. (2010) Canopy assemblages of ants in a New Guinea rainforest. Journal of Tropical Ecology 27: 83-91.
Klimeš P., Janda M., Ibalim S., Kua J. and Novotný V. (2011) Experimental suppression of ants foraging on rainforest vegetation in New Guinea: testing methods for a whole-forest manipulation of insect communities Ecological Entomology 36: 94–103.
Klimeš P., Idigel C., Rimandai M., Fayle T.M., Janda M., Weiblen G.D. and Novotny V. (2012) Why are there more arboreal ant species in primary than in secondary tropical forests? Journal of Animal Ecology (In Press).