The fynbos and succulent Karoo biomes do not have exceptional local ant richness
Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.
The original publication is available at www.plosone.org/
Background: The Fynbos (FB) and Succulent Karoo biomes (SKB) have high regional plant diversity despite relatively low productivity. Local diversity in the region varies but is moderate. For insects, previous work suggests that strict phytophages, but not other taxa, may have high regional richness. However, what has yet to be investigated is whether the local insect species richness of FB and SKB is unusual for a region of this productivity level at this latitude, and whether regional richness is also high. Here we determine whether this is the case for ants. Methodology/Principal Findings: We use species richness data from pitfall traps in the FB and SKB in the Western Cape Province, South Africa and a global dataset of local ant richness extracted from the literature. We then relate the globally derived values of local richness to two energy-related predictors—productive energy (NDVI) and temperature, and to precipitation, and compare the data from the FB and SKB with these relationships. We further compare our local richness estimates with that of similar habitats worldwide, and regional ant richness with estimates derived from other regions. The local ant species richness of the FB and SKB falls within the general global pattern relating ant richness to energy, and is similar to that in comparable habitats elsewhere. At a regional scale, the richness of ants across all of our sites is not exceptional by comparison with other regional estimates from across the globe. Conclusions/Significance: Local richness of ants in the FB and SKB is not exceptional by global standards. Initial analyses suggest that regional diversity is also not exceptional for the group. It seems unlikely that the mechanisms which have contributed to the development of extraordinarily high regional plant diversity in these biomes have had a strong influence on the ants.