Drought and presence of ants can influence hemiptera in tropical leaf litter

Anna E. Goldman, Timothy C. Bonebrake, Toby P.N. Tsang, Theodore A. Evans, Luke Gibson, Paul Eggleton, Hannah M. Griffiths, Catherine L. Parr, Louise A. Ashton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change is predicted to impact tropical rain forests, with droughts becoming more frequent and more severe in some regions. We currently have a poor understanding of how increased drought will change the functioning of tropical rain forest. In particular, tropical rain forest invertebrates, which are numerous and biologically important, may respond to drought in different ways across trophic levels. Ants are a diverse group that carry out important ecosystem processes, shaping ecosystem structure and function through predation and competition, which can influence multiple trophic levels. Hemiptera are a mega-diverse order, abundant in tropical rain forests and are ecologically important. To understand the roles of ants in exerting predation and competition pressure on invertebrates in tropical rain forests during drought and a post-drought period, we established a large-scale ecosystem manipulation experiment in Maliau Basin Conservation Area in Malaysian Borneo, suppressing the activity of ants on four 0.25 ha plots over a two-year period. We sampled hemipterans found in the leaf litter during a drought (July 2015) and a post-drought period (September 2016) period. We found significant shifts in the assemblage of hemipterans sampled from the leaf litter following ant suppression. Specifically, for ant-suppression plots, the species richness and abundance of herbivorous hemipterans increased only during the post-drought period. For predatory hemipterans, abundance increased with ant-suppression regardless of drought conditions, and we found marginal evidence for a species richness increase during the post-drought period with little or no change in the drought period. These results illustrate how ants in tropical forests structure invertebrate communities and how these effects may vary with climatic variation. Abstract in Malay is available with online material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-229
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


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