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Local and regional-scale responses of ant diversity to a semiarid biome transition

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The locations of biome transitions and ecotones are frequently defined by the rapid shift from one form of dominant vegetation to another. The composition of animal taxa is predicted to shift in parallel with that of dominant plants and species diversity is predicted to be greater in transitional zones than in adjacent areas. We asked whether ant species diversity and composition supported these predictions across a biome transition between shortgrass steppe and Chihuahuan desert vegetation. Neither species richness nor diversity was highest at the biome transition region as a whole, or within habitats in the biome transition. The biome transition region was not intermediate in ant species composition or in the representation of different faunal complexes. The community similarity between matched habitats shared between the biome transition zone and adjacent regions was less than that between distinct habitats occurring within regions. A zoogeographic transition for ants may occur to the north of the phytogeographic transition and may be coincident with the northern limits of monsoonal precipitation patterns. In contrast, the phytogeographic transition may be related to less extreme climatic variation within the monsoonal region occurring further south.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2001

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