Schütz Martin

Do wood ants play an important role in carbon and nutrient dynamics in subalpine conifer forests?

Project Number: CH-2193
Project Type: Research_Project
Project Duration: 05/01/2003 - 12/31/2005 project completed
Funding Source: WSL , other ,
Project Leader: Dr. Martin Schütz
Ökologie der Lebensgemeinschaften
Zürcherstrasse 111
8903 Birmensdorf
Phone: ; +41 (0) 44 739 25 26
FAX: +41 (0) 44 739 22 15
e-Mail: martin.schuetz(at)

related to this project.
for which the project has a relevance.

Research Areas:

general biology
forestry and agricultural sciences

Forest ecology
Soil science

Red wood ants (Formica rufa group) are common in many European forests. Because of their wide occurrence wood ant social structure, geographical distribution, population dynamics, and biodiversity have been intensively studied. Wood ants build large above-ground nests (mounds) composed of litter (needles, twigs, resin) collected from the surrounding forest stand, and potentially have a large impact on soil carbon (C) and nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems. However, our knowledge on the impact of wood ants on forest C and nutrient cycling is very limited. While the dissertation of Anita Risch is investigating above and below-ground carbon and nitrogen pools in subalpine forests, this study should help to provide a better understanding of other potential C and nutrient sinks and sources in an ecosystem. Consequently, the objectives of our study are to: 1) quantify C and nutrient pools in wood ant mounds of subalpine conifer forests; and 2) assess annual CO2 emissions from ant mounds in forests of different ages. Our experimental approach will be to determine the number, size, and C/nutrient pools of wood ant mounds in representative subalpine conifer stands. Outputs (CO2 emissions, nutrient mineralization) will be measured and compared to the surrounding forest floor and mineral soil.

Risch A C, Jurgensen M F, Schutz M, Page Dumroese D S: The contribution of red wood ants to soil C and N pools and CO2 emissions in subalpine forests. Ecology, 2005, V86, N2, FEB, pp 419-430.

Last update: 12/16/16
Source of data: ProClim- Research InfoSystem (1993-2020)
Update the data of project: CH-2193

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