Endangered populations of Messor arenarius ants in the Northern Coastal Plain of Israel

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution
Ittai Warburg Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, The Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Edmond J. Safra Campus, Givat-Ram, Jerusalem 91904, Israel,

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Messor arenarius (Fabricius) is a harvester ant species, which is mainly distributed in deserts of the Middle East and North Africa. Ants of this species dig their nests in loess or sandy soils. In Israel, this ants’ species is distributed in the Negev Desert and in sandy soils along the Mediterranean Coastal Plain. In this work, 12 sites of natural habitats in the Northern Coastal Plain of Israel were surveyed for surface activity of M. arenarius ants. These ants were found in 3 out of these 12 natural habitats. Two of these sites where M. arenarius ants were found were subjected to disturbance, caused by development works during the period of this survey. It is concluded, that the populations of M. arenarius in the Northern Mediterranean Coastal Plain of Israel are endangered. It is also concluded, that the presence of either Artemisia monosperma or Retama raetam bushes in certain habitats in the Northern Coastal Plain of Israel, are not necessary or sufficient conditions for presence of M. arenarius in these same habitats.

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