Effects of tree mortality caused by a bark beetle outbreak on the ant community in the San Bernardino National Forest
Correspondence: Brian W. Spitzer, Department of Biology, University of Redlands, 1200 East Colton Ave., P.O. Box 3080, Redlands, CA 92373, U.S.A. E-mail: email@example.com
- A severe bark beetle outbreak caused very high levels of tree mortality in the San Bernardino National Forest in southern California in 2003.
- In 2009, the impact of the outbreak on the ant community was examined by pitfall-trapping ants in 15 sites that saw high tree mortality (‘red’ sites) and 15 sites that suffered little or no tree mortality (‘green’ sites) during the outbreak.
- Ant species turnover between green and red sites was low, and no invasive species were observed.
- However, changes in the abundances of various species resulted in a significant alteration of the ant community.
- If the ant community is an accurate bioindicator of other taxa in this forest, the effects of the bark beetle outbreak may be described as dramatic but not catastrophic or irreversible.
- The changes in the ant community are consistent with the hypothesis that this community is structured by nest site limitation rather than inter-specific competition or thermal limitation.