MadSci Network: Environment & Ecology

Re: Percentage of biomass made up by ants

Date: Tue May 8 13:45:31 2001
Posted By: David Richman, Staff, Entomology
Area of science: Environment & Ecology
ID: 988383673.En

According to Hölldobler and Wilson (1990), up to 1/3 (33%) of the 
terrestrial animal biomass (NOTE: not including aquatic animal, or 
terrestrial and aquatic flowering plants and microorganisms) was made up 
of ants and termites.  A study made in Finland produced a terrestrial 
animal biomass of ants alone of 10%.   In the Brazilian rain forest the 
biomass of ants exceeds that of terrestrial vertebrates by four times! 
Thus a figure for ants of 15% of all terrestrial animal biomass is not out 
of line. I would doubt that they are 15% of all living things because 
plants and microorganisms make up a large part of the earth's biomass and 
the biomass of marine organisms (none of which are ants) is usually not 
included in such calculations.


Hölldobler, Bert, and E. O. Wilson. 1990. The Ants.  Harvard University 
Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

LaSalle, J., and I. D. Gauld.  1993. Hymenoptera and Biodiversity.  C.A.B. 
International, Oxon, U.K.      

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