Unique and rare ant species found in Norway

Norway has so far recorded 66 ant species, the last was just found after much searching.

Sumpeitermaur (Myrmica gallienii) is found only in six places in Sweden and two in Denmark. When insect researcher Frode Ødegaard after much searching found it in Vestfold, he got the ant shakes, according to the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA). This species is rare and lives, unlike other ants, close to lakes and swamp areas that are regularly flooded.

-When the water comes, the maur downs all the hatches of the ant hill, forming living fleets consisting of ants clinging to each other and the vegetation that protrudes out of the water. In this way they stay floating until the water retreats, and the soil dries up, says Ødegaard.

Hunt for ants and knowledge

The first overview of ants in Norway, published in 1880, lists 19 different types of ants. Now Ødegaard and colleagues at NINA work with a new overview of ants in Norway, and the number has come up in 66 native ants. Ødegaard and his colleagues at NINA have found several of them.

-We have received an enormous amount of new knowledge about ants the last five years, explains Ødegaard. New methods and targeted exploration have resulted in increased knowledge and new species.

Increased knowledge about ants is important since the maur plays many important roles in the ecosystem.

Ants important for eco systems

For those who think ants are annoying and at times a nuisance, it must be stated that they have very important functions in the ecosystem.

-Ants process the soil and releases nutrients for the plants. Globally, they actually till and enrich more soil than earthworms. They are also important predators on other insects and spiders and therefore regulate pests and outbreak species. In addition, they contribute to seed dispersal, and can also prevent overgrowth in certain areas, says Ødegaard.

Facts about Myrmica gallienii (wikipedia)

Myrmica gallienii is an ant species distributed from Central Europe to West Siberia. Also found in Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. It lives in wet grasslands and swamps, often in saline land. It builds shallow nests with a soil mound in moist habitats but deep nests in sandy areas. Colonies are relatively large with thousands of individuals.

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