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Climate change shifts how long ants hang on to coveted real estate

Forest test reveals climate warming effect on ant Game of Thrones

By
4:04pm, October 26, 2016
ants

HIDDEN UPSETS  Camponotus ants were among the winners in a simulated climate warming experiment that revealed how shifting temperatures subtly destabilize the power politics in environmentally important ant communities.

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.

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