TS-CRC Student project - Responses of ant communities to land-use impacts in northern semi-arid Australia

Northern Territory University
CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Darwin: Completed 2001

Ben Hoffmann

Commenced 1997

Summary | Publications | Conferences


This PhD aimed to better understand responses of ant communities to land-use related impacts, including cattle grazing, fire, and off-site mining-related SO 2 emissions. The project concluded with a synthesis and review of these related projects to revise and develop protocols for the use of ants as bio-indicators.

Given the poor taxonomy of Australian ants, the greatest research challenge was sorting the collected specimens to species (morphospecies) level. The lack of collections from my research areas exacerbated the challenge, but the collecting of previously unrecorded species was most rewarding. The extreme heat and humidity of Australia's semi-arid north also tested tolerance on field trips.

This project could not have proceeded without the cooperation of the Northern Territory University, CSIRO Division of Wildlife and Ecology in Darwin and Townsville, Department of Primary Industries in Katherine and numerous landholders in the Northern Territory and Queensland.


Hoffmann B. D. (2000) Changes in ant species composition and community organisation along grazing gradients in semi-arid rangelands of the Northern Territory. Rangel. J. 22 , 171-89.

Hoffmann B. D., Griffiths A. D. & Andersen A. N. (2000) Responses of ant communities to dry sulfur deposition from mining emissions in semi-arid tropical Australia, with implications for the use of functional groups. Austral Ecol. 25 , 653-63.


Results from this project were presented at the 1998 Ecological Society of Australia conference in New Zealand and at the IUSSI conference in Adelaide over the 1998/99 New Year Period.


Dr Ben Hoffmann
CSIRO Tropical Ecosystems
Tel: 08 8944 8432

Fax: 08 8944 8444

PMB 44