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Distribution of the fungus-gardening ant (Trachymyrmex septentrionalis) during and after a record drought


Jon N. Seal, Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station #C0930, Austin, TX 78712, USA. E-mail:


Abstract.  1. Insects are known to be influenced by global climate change, especially by drought and increased temperatures.

2. Although ants are widely regarded to be indicator or keystone species and ecosystem engineers, we do not know how ants may respond to global climate change.

3. This study reports the range contraction of an extremely abundant fungus-gardening ant (Trachymyrmex septentrionalis) over a 3-year period that coincided with the end of a record drought in southeastern North America.

4. Reduction in nest number appears to be the result of an increase in water-table levels and decrease in soil aridity.

5. Therefore T. septentrionalis should be expected to increase its abundance and presumably its ecological impact during multiyear droughts.