Abstract: We identify and review an approach that views ant species diversity as a consequence of energy flux through an ecosystem. In this bottom-up view, energy apportioned to trophic guilds drives ant community responses to mesoscale variation generated by land-use and other processes. We introduce a conceptual model based upon this idea, and offer aninterpretation of some data we have collected in the light of the model. Operationally, the concept focuses analysis uponthe relationships between species richness / composition, trophic group identity, body size, and abundance. These attributes are compared among ecosystems that vary in total net primary productivity (NPP) and in how that productivity isdivided among plant functional groups. We offer a brief example of how biomass and abundance of three ant trophicgroups, large granivores, small granivores and scavengers, differed between two ecosystems that varied strongly in NPPpatterns. We emphasize the value of linking ant measurements directly with Npp at mesoscales.