However, more meaningful comparisons can also be made based on data sets. The biomass of all ants living on earth can be expressed in twelve megatons of carbon. By comparison, that would be about 20 percent of the mass of the entire human race, according to the study. Or even more graphically: even if the biomass of all wild birds and mammals were added together, the biomass of ants would still be higher.
However, the study was concerned not only with the total number of ants in the world, but also with their proportional distribution in different habitats. “Ant abundance on Earth is unevenly distributed, peaking in the tropics and varying sixfold between habitats,” the study said. Species that prefer to live close to the ground are mostly found in dry areas. On the other hand, the density of tree-dwelling ant species is highest in forests. No wonder: residents of highly urbanized and human-dominated regions fare particularly poorly.
Positive impact on the ecosystem
But what are these calculations for? And what are the benefits of ants to the most diverse ecosystems? On the one hand, accurate distribution of insects also provides useful information about invasive species. According to the study, large amounts of them can have a negative impact on local biodiversity. Competition for habitat, food and other resources can cause stress and long-term damage to both insects and plants.