Mapping the distribution of the European Red Wood Ant in Turkey and its key factors in conservation planning
Keywords:Conservation biology, Conservation zones, Formica pratensis, red wood ants, Geographic Information Systems
In this study, 82 nests in the Thrace region, the only distribution area of the European redwood ant (Formica pratensis Retzius,1783) in Turkey, were identified and monitored for two years. A nest ID was created for each nest, showing nest features, strategic location, habitat characteristics and some morphometric differences of workers. The species ' living areas (area of occupancy, AOO) and extension of occurrence (EOO) calculations were also carried out. Statistical analyses were carried out to show the relationships between these features. The results demonstrated that the optimum distribution of the nests is between 300-600 m, and the nests are mainly located at a distance of 0-200 m close to the water source. Nests are mostly built facing south in open areas in fields or forests, and the B-shaped nest is the most frequently observed nest morphology. Moreover, colony individuals frequently visit oak and blackberry species, and the Thracian population tends to form monodomous nests at a rate of 95%. The relationship between the morphological characteristics of ants (NHLI, NBH, LBH and HW), nest altitude data, and the distance of nests to water sources and forest areas was tested with Spearman rank correlation analysis, and a weak reverse correlation was found between the averages of NBH data and nest altitudes (r: -0.300; p<0.05), at 95% confidence interval. Accordingly, the AOO of the species in the Thrace region was calculated as 50,176 m2 and the EOO was 3,682 km2. All nests are shown on political maps, and applicable maps have been created in which buffer zoning and conservation areas are suggested. In total, 36 conservation and awareness training types were also carried out in two years, reaching 1201 students, and 92% awareness was created. Our results indicate that the nests cannot remain stable for many years due to intense human pressure.
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