Effects of short-term warming on low and high latitude forest ant communities

Climatic change is expected to have differential effects on ecological communities in different geographic areas. However, few studies have experimentally demonstrated the effects of warming on communities simultaneously at different locales. We manipulated air temperature with in situ passive warming and cooling chambers and quantified effects of temperature on ant abundance, diversity, and foraging activities (predation, scavenging, seed dispersal, nectivory, granivory) in two deciduous forests at 35 and 43 N latitude in the eastern U.S. In the southern site, the most abundant species, Crematogaster lineolata, increased while species evenness, most ant foraging activities, and abundance of several other ant species declined with increasing temperature. In the northern site, species evenness was highest at intermediate temperatures, but no other metrics of diversity or foraging activity changed with temperature. Regardless of temperature, ant abundance and foraging activities at the northern site were several orders of magnitude lower than those in the southern site.