Interested in receiving weekly updates on Myrmecol. News & Myrmecol. News Blog? Follow the link & subscribe:


Open Access: CC BY 4.0


Perfecto, I. & Philpott, S.M.

Year: 2023


Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and ecosystem functions and services in urban areas: a reflection on a diverse literature

Journal: Myrmecological News

Volume: 33

Pages: 103-122

Type of contribution: Review Article

Supplementary material: No


Urban environments are the fastest growing ecosystems on Earth. Ants are among the most abundant arthropod taxa in urban ecosystems and provide important ecosystem services. Here, we review the literature on ecosystem services provided by ants in urban ecosystems and examine how these services are affected by urbanization. In particular, we examine the role of ants in seed dispersal, soil enhancement, scavenging of urban food waste, and pest control. We also examine how urbanization affects trophic interactions involving ants, including mutualistic interactions with hemipterans, and how this affects the ecosystem service of pest control in cities. We found that the potential for ants to provide ecosystem services in urban areas depends on how the ant community is affected by urbanization and the resulting species composition. In some cases, the remaining species are highly effective, but in other cases, the most efficient species decline or are replaced by less efficient species as urbanization proceeds. Because these services depend on the structure of ant communities, which, in turn, is predicted to be altered by climate change, we also examine the effect of climate change on ant communities in the urban environment, including interactions between urbanization and climate change. The ants that persist in urban environments are largely those with broader temperature ranges and higher heat tolerance, whether by increasing the minimum or maximum temperature that the ants can tolerate.

Open access, licensed under CC BY 4.0. © 2023 The Author(s).

Key words:

Ant-mediated ecosystem services, cities, climate change, invasive species, myrmecochory, pest control, review, scavenging, soil enhancement.

Publisher: The Austrian Society of Entomofaunistics

ISSN: 1997-3500

Check out the accompanying blog contribution: