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Belgium is a small country in Western Europe. To the west, its 70 km coastline fronts the North Sea; to the north lies the Netherlands; to the east, Germany, and to the south, France and Luxembourg. Biologically, the fauna of eastern Belgium belong to the Central European Province of the Eurasian (Palaearctic) Region. By contrast, the rest of the country primarily consists of an Atlantic fauna plus a few Central European relict species.
Politically and geographically, the country is divided into two parts. In Flanders (13,522 km2 and population 5.9 million people), to the north, soils are mainly sandy to loamy. Here, the most important habitats for ants are heathlands and dry grasslands. In Wallonia (17,006 km2 and 4 million people), to the south, soils and habitats are more diverse, ranging from forests to rocky and calcareous grasslands on loam and chalky soils. Eastern Wallonia, near the German border, includes the Hautes Fagnes, a large area of bogs and peat.
In Belgium as a whole, nine species are introduced or tramp species. Five are only found indoors: Hypoponera schauinslandi, Linepithema humile, Monomorium pharaonis, Tetramorium bicarinathum and Tapinoma melanocephalum. The rest (Camponotus vagus, Hypoponera punctatissima, Lasius neglectus and Tetraponera allaborans) persist in only a few places.
Of the 86 species known from Belgium, nine are considered essentially extinct in Belgium because they have not been recorded for the past 50 years. However, extensive inventory work remains to be done, especially in Wallonia. Such an effort will likely rediscover many so-called extinct species and add a few new Belgian or tramp species to the national list.
Wouter Dekoninck & Philippe Wegnez