Ants are often used as ecological indicators in environmental monitoring programs, but rarely in Europe, probably because of a lack of baseline knowledge on the relationship between ant community structure and environmental variation. We present this baseline knowledge for Italian ecosystems that are typical of the Mediterranean climate, in order to assess the value of ants as ecological indicators in this biogeographic zone. Sampling areas were selected inside the Castelporziano Natural Reserve (Rome, Italy). The elevated variety of habitats and diverse ecological conditions, as well as the different levels of human impact in the Reserve, make this area a suitable location to develop and test biological indicators of environmental quality. The ant community structure was compared among several Mediterranean ecosystems using pitfall trapping, multidimensional scaling, the indicator species analysis and the Functional Groups Approach. Key factors for differences in ant community structure seem to be the presence/absence of water, the level of light and microhabitat diversity. Our results suggest that Castelporziano is an informative area in order to develop a study model for the Italian ant fauna and the Functional Group Approach is a promising procedure to associate differences in ant community structures with differences in habitat stress and disturbance.
I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.