Forest test reveals climate warming effect on ant Game of Thrones
Heating small patches of forest shows how climate warming might change the winner-loser dynamics as species struggle for control of prize territories. And such shifts in control could have wide-ranging effects on ecosystems.
The species are cavity-nesting ants in eastern North America. Normally, communities of these ant species go through frequent turnovers in control of nest sites. But as researchers heated enclosures to mimic increasingly severe climate warming, the control started shifting toward a few persistent winners. Several heat-loving species tended to stay in nests unusually long, instead of being replaced in faster ant upheavals, says Sarah Diamond of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
That’s worrisome not only for the new perpetual losers among ants but for the ecosystem as a whole, she and her colleagues argue October 26 in Science Advances. Ants have an outsized