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Distribution and ecological requirements of the red wood ants in Switzerland

 

Red wood ants are so-called ecosystem engineers that modify habitats for other organisms. They play an important phytosanitary role and are considered keystone species in forest ecosystems with a significant impact on forest biodiversity. The biology of our native, mound-building wood ants are well-known. However, considerably less is known about their requirements with regard to habitat composition and the environmental properties that define their nesting sites. In the context of the Swiss National Forest Inventory (NFI) we monitor red wood ants and investigate the status and distribution of these insects in Swiss forests. Another focus of the project is to assess the effect of anthropogenic influence on ant distribution.