New paper published: Patterns and processes in mountain ant metacommunities

Understanding the drivers of biodiversity patterns is always difficult due to the fact that multiple factors such as environmental gradient and spatial connectivity might contribute to the species distribution and community composition patterns simultaneously.

In a new paper just published in Ecography, we (Liu, Dudley, Xu and Economo) evaluate the effects of environmental gradients and spatial connectivity on ant taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity patterns along a 5000m elevational gradient within a complex mountainous landscape in Hengduan Mountains, a biodiversity hotspot in Southwest China.

We found that environmental gradients dominate variation in both alpha and beta diversity in this landscape, with alpha diversity strongly declining with elevation and beta diversity driven by elevational differences. We compared our system to predictions of a recent theoretical framework (Bertuzzo et al. 2016; PNAS) which synthesizes how aspects of landscape geomorphology may drive biodiversity patterns in idealized mountain landscapes. Our findings did not match the theory, we found alpha diversity is monotonically declining and within-band beta diversity is invariant with increasing elevation, but point toward ways to improve the theory. Taken together, our results show how elevation-driven environmental gradients, spatial factors, as well as landscape geomorphology together affect ant metacommunity structure in a complex mountainous landscape.

Original paper can be found here

New paper published by Cong on how habitat conversion affects ant biodiversity


A new paper published by Cong Liu et al. in Ecological Monographs reports on how agricultural activity and the associated habitat conversion affects organisms by using ants as a surrogate for all invertebrates.  Specifically, the authors investigated the effects of conversion to rubber plantation on leaf-litter ant taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diversities in Xishuangbanna in southeast China.  They found a sharp decline in species richness and low beta diversity after the habitat conversion.

The original article can be found here and the article by the OIST media section on the paper can be found here

Two new papers on tropical Chinese ant biodiversity

Aenictus yangiCong has two new papers out so far this year! The first paper describes a new species, Aenictus yangi in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research. The other paper, in Zookeys, reports new records of ant species encountered in Yunnan, China. Both papers are coming from the field expedition to the Xingshuabanna area that Cong, Benoit Guenard, and Benjamin Blanchard made recently. They found 25 species previously unrecorded in Yunnan in addition to many new species (including, of course, Bannapone). Nice work, Cong!


Benoit, Cong, and Benjamin made a great discovery on their trip to China, the first workers of one of the rarest ant genera in the world, Bannapone! The genus had previously only been known from a queen collected about 15 years ago. Our paper describes the worker of a different species of the genus.

See the paper here:

and news article here: