• Ants;
  • diversity;
  • disturbance;
  • fire;
  • Patagonia;
  • regional species pool;
  • vegetation structure

Abstract. We investigated the effects of recent fires on the native ant communities in two habitats of north-west Patagonia that differ in vegetation structural complexity. Using bait traps, we sampled ants in replicated scrub and steppe areas including paired burned and unburned sites. Fires significantly reduced plant cover and ant diversity only in scrub sites. The drop in diversity was due to (a) a reduction in the abundance of rare species associated with woody vegetation, and (b) an increase in the abundance of the dominant species, which thrive in more xeric microclimatic conditions. Consequently, ant assemblage structure of burned scrub approaches that of steppe sites. Our findings suggest that the effects of disturbances on ant assemblages depends both on habitat characteristics, which in turn determine the extent of the changes induced by the disturbance, and on the regional context of the ant fauna, which in turn determines the ability of the ants to deal with the post-disturbance conditions.