Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (8): 22067.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022067

Special Issue: 昆虫多样性与生态功能

• Original Papers: Animal Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Cavity-dwelling ants tend to colonize close to artificial light

Runming Yang1,2, Akihiro Nakamura1,3,*()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    3. Center of Plant Ecology, Core Botanical Gardens, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303
  • Received:2022-02-09 Accepted:2022-03-18 Online:2022-08-20 Published:2022-08-31
  • Contact: Akihiro Nakamura


Aim: Light pollution is considered as an “environmental trap” that can attract insects from surrounding areas. Increased availability of insects and the presence of light itself may attract predators to colonize and nests near to the artificial lights, potentially altering insect diversity and ecosystem services. Ants (Formicidae: Hymenoptera) are one of the dominant predatory insects, and many cavity-dwelling ants use hollow branches or bamboo to build nests and reproduction. Despite their significance in predation and other ecosystem functions, the effects of light pollution on nesting ant communities remain unclear. In this study, we investigated the effects of light-emitting diodes (LED) on nesting patterns and community composition in three different habitats (primary forest, secondary forest, and rubber plantation) in rainy and dry seasons.

Methods: In total, 15 LED lights were installed across three habitats, and artificial bamboo nests with different entrance sizes were set at 0 m, 10 m, 50 m, and 100 m away from the light source. Bamboo nests were left for seven weeks.

Results: We found 12 ant genera with 40 morphospecies in bamboo nests, among which Camponotus was the dominant genus. Our results reveal that areas immediately adjacent to the light source increased the occupancy rate but this was only evident in dry season. The occupancy rate remained low across distances away from the light (10-100 m). The same pattern was found across the three different habitats. The community composition of ants was significantly different between the seasons, but was marginally significant among the three habitats in the dry season only. Community composition did not change with the distance from the light source. Entrance size had no significant effect on bamboo nest occupancy.

Conclusion: Our study shows that light pollution attracted nesting ants and altered their spatial distribution which may result in modified ecosystem functions near the artificial lights.

Key words: light pollution, Formicidae, community assemblage, bamboo nest, primary forest, secondary forest, rubber plantation