Previous studies have provided important scientific information on ant species richness and composition relating to the effects of elevation, sampling approaches, stratification, and forest succession. Yet, they have primarily focused on single sites or regions. Knowledge of ant ecology should also include the impact of disturbance in various forest types. Tuna baiting and hand collection methods were used to investigate diversity and community composition of ants in 16 sites sampled across Papua New Guinea, in both disturbed and pristine forest, at heights ranging from 28 to 2,728 m above sea level. We found 176 species as a result of exposing 320 tuna baits and traversing 72 hand-searched plots. Baiting samples were strongly dominated by a few common species, while the hand-collecting captured more species per plot. The Chao 2 richness estimator for both methods predicted undersampling of the local community. As expected, ant species diversity and richness significantly decrease with increasing elevation. We observed, on average, greater species diversity of ground-dwelling ant communities in disturbed compared to undisturbed forests. The effect was not significant using multivariate randomisations, since the same species dominated both forest classes. The unexpected pattern of ant species richness being locally higher in the disturbed sites is driven by our sampling of undisturbed communities at all elevations, but sampling of the disturbed communities only up to 1,600 m above sea level. Hence, future studies should consider more locations, aiming ideally for an equal sampling effort to capture disturbance stage and elevation.

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