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The presence of six unique geographical regions allows for diverse ant fauna within Arkansas. The northwestern part of the state is comprised of the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains, separated by the Arkansas River Valley. The mountains of Arkansas are part of the Interior Highlands of the United States, which have existed as isolated landforms for more than 320 million years. They have historically provided a refuge for flora and fauna and are noted for their high rate of biological endemism. The entire eastern third of the state is part of the Mississippi Delta, and consists of flat, rich alluvial deposits. This region has been subjected to intensive agricultural production of cotton, rice and other crops, and most of it has been altered to an unrecognizable state. Crowley’s Ridge, a band of rolling hills bisecting the Delta, features soil, flora, and fauna that is distinct from that in the surrounding region. The south is dominated by the Gulf Coastal Plains. Although Arkansas forests have not been as intensively clear-cut as bordering states there are a variety of introduced pines and other hardwoods.
While receiving very little attention since Warren and Rouse (1969), recent distributional surveys and studies, predominantly led by General and Thompson (2007, 2008, 2009), MacGown (2010) and MacGown et al. (2011), have dramatically improved the amount of information known about the ant fauna of Arkansas. To date, Arkansas is known to contain at least 132 ant species in 34 genera. However, species numbers are likely higher as only about a dozen of the state’s 75 counties have been surveyed for ants. Invasive species such as the imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, and Argentine ant, Linepithema humile (Mayr), have made great incursions into local ecosystems and could change the nature and makeup of ant communities in Arkansas before they receive proper inventory attention.
Joseph O'Neill, Ashley Dowling, James Trager