Review Article

The little things that run the world revisited: a review of ant-mediated ecosystem services and disservices (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Del Toro, I., Ribbons, R.R. & Pelini, S.L.


Abstract: Ants are important for the maintenance and functioning of many ecosystems and provide a variety of ecosystem services and disservices.This review summarizes information on ecosystem services provided by ants in a framework modeled after the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. In this framework, ecosystem services are divided into provisioning, regulating, cultural, and supporting services, and we show that ants provide services in each of these categories. We also present a review of some of the major disservices mediated by ants (i.e., the roles of ants that have negative consequences on human and environmental health, and societal well-being). Our review does not exhaustively review any single ecosystem service or disservice, but rather pieces together the many ways in which ants are influential in our changing planet and society. We conclude by describing future areas of research that will help better understand the impact of ants on ecosystems and society.