Woody debris affects on ground foraging ant distribution across northern Michigan transitioning forest

Project Overview
Ants are an integral component of a variety of ecosystems, and understanding their distribution in specific habitats can be a useful tool for examining the dynamics of certain ecosystems. In this experiment, I will explore and compare the distribution of ants on the forest floor in two forest stands in a northern Michigan forest. One stand (Ameriflux) reflects the current status of the forest ecosystem, while the other stand (FASET) has been experimentally manipulated to accelerate succession. In the FASET, Aspen and Birch tree species have been girdled, and as these mature trees die and fall their woody debris accumulate on the forest floor. Past experiments have shown that some ants nest in woody debris (Lafleur et. al. 2006). Thus I hypothesize that as woody debris increase on the forest floor, the ant population and distribution should increase accordingly, particularly in areas with a high volume of tree fall. I expect that falling trees will also change canopy structure, soil composition, and contribute to forest succession (change in vegetation) due to the targeting of the two aforementioned tree species. I will also measure these factors and see how they correlate with the distribution of ants.
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