Buchbesprechung: Waldameisen – Ökologie und Schutz

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Buchbesprechung: Waldameisen – Ökologie und Schutz

Beitragvon Merkur » Dienstag 30. Mai 2017, 19:49

STOCKAN, J.A. & ROBINSON, E.J.H. (Eds.) 2016: Wood ant ecology and conservation.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, XV + 304 pp.; ISBN: 9781107048331, Price: £ 59.99
Konrad Fiedler, Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, University of Vienna, Rennweg 14, 1030 Vienna, Austria.
Myrmecol. News 25: 50 (online 22 July 2016)
ISSN 1994-4136 (print), ISSN 1997-3500 (online)

Mound building wood ants (genus Formica s. str.) for sure exemplify a pinnacle of social organisation and ecological impact amongst
ants in the northern hemisphere. They may reach immensely large (super-)colony sizes which can only be tied together by sophisticated
means of communication and nestmate recognition. Wood ants are highly important predators and provide multiple ecosystem
functions. At the same time, in many parts of their distributional range, these fascinating ants are under pressure through anthropogenic
influences that let their habitats deteriorate. Much research has been done, and is ongoing worldwide, on wood ants. Yet, the results
tend to be published in a widely scattered range of outlets, including journals that are available to but a narrow readership.
The last in-depth two-volume monograph on wood ants, published by Karl Gößwald over 25 years ago in German language, is now largely outdated.

This recent volume draws together 13 chapters provided by 23 co-authors from various biological disciplines and regions. I found this a
most welcome addition to the ant literature. It makes accessible the current state of the art in wood ant research to a broad international
audience. The book starts with an overview of the systematics (including an identification key, separately for the Palaearctic and Nearctic
species) and distribution of wood ants. It continues with chapters on sociobiology, population genetics, ant community ecology, biotic
interactions with mutualists and ant guests, and the role of mound building ants for ecosystem functioning. Some more applied chapters
on aspects of conservation, monitoring and management complement this volume.
All chapters give an upto-date introduction into their topics with special focus on Formica ants. Each chapter has a conclusions paragraph
at its end, which in some way serves as a helpful short summary for the quick reader. A particular asset of all chapters is that they provide
extensive reference to parts of the literature that are often not so easy to locate, including papers written in languages other than English or
published in less "conspicuous" journals or books. Here, the specific literature is really done justice, including papers that stretch into
forestry science and alike. I was also impressed by the good balance between most recent and more "classical" references in all chapters.
My only criticism relates to a few figures reproduced in such a small size that it is difficult to distinguish symbols (e.g., Fig. 3.1. and Fig. 7.5).
Also the contrast in some photographs reproduced as half-tone graphics in print limits the information value of these illustrations. But
these are really very minor shortcomings. In summary, this book is to be recommended to any scientist with a specific interest in wood ants,
be it from an academic or a more applied perspective. Personally, I will benefit a lot from this new volume for my own academic teaching.
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