Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Nest-mounds of Lasius flavus, Lasius alienus and Formica rufibarbis are mainly on north-facing slopes with a markedly patchy distribution at Gimritz, northwest of Halle (Saale). Nest-mound soils had higher sodium and potassium levels but lower phosphorus and nitrogen levels than soils away from mounds. Moisture content was lower but soil pH was significantly higher in nest-mound soils. However, there was no difference in the relative abundance of plants of alkaline or acid soils growing on mounds compared to plants off mounds and no significant difference between the numbers of nitrophilous plants on and off mounds. Fewer plant species (35 spp.) in total occurred on mounds than off mounds (42 spp.). Plant species richness and total plant cover was significantly less on the nest-mounds than off the mounds. Similarly, the mean number of grass (1.39 spp dm−2) and forb species (1.13 spp dm−2) on mounds was lower than the mean number of grass (1.99 spp dm−2) and forb species (1.91 spp dm−2) off mounds. Some shrubs and forbs had higher occurrence and cover on the mounds, although only in Calluna vulgaris, Thymus serpyllum and Cerastium arvense was this difference particularly marked. Ant nest-mounds may favour plant species that cannot compete with tall grasses on unmanaged, set-aside meadows.
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