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Mojave Ants MASTER.xlsx (27.76 kB)

Data from: Effects of solar energy development on ants in the Mojave Desert

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posted on 2024-02-15, 19:34 authored by Steven M. Grodsky, Karl RoederKarl Roeder, Joshua W. Campbell

Data files for manuscript titled "Effects of solar energy development on ants in the Mojave Desert".

Excel file with 4 tabs: Metadata; Abundance, Richness, Shannon; Community Composition; and Functional Traits. Metadata is contained within Excel file that describes all variables for each tab.

Abstract from paper: Land-use change from solar energy development may affect desert ecosystems and the soils, plants, and animals therein, yet our understanding of these interactions is nascent. With their ubiquity, criticality as ecosystem constituents, and sensitivity to environmental variation, ants may be useful study organisms for elucidating ecological effects of solar energy development in deserts. Our objectives were to disentangle the response of a desert ant community to solar energy development decisions and test the efficacy of ants as bioindicators at Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS, 392 MW) in the Mojave Desert, USA. We used pitfall traps to collect ants in treatments representing different solar energy development decisions, including variably intense site preparation practices: blading (i.e., bulldozing) and mowing, and establishment of undeveloped patches in solar fields replicated across three power blocks comprising ISEGS and in undeveloped control sites surrounding ISEGS. We determined that ant abundance, species richness, Shannon Diversity Index, and functional richness was lower in bladed treatments than in all other treatments and controls. For most taxonomic and functional ant responses, we detected no difference between non-bladed treatments and controls; these results suggest that less intensive site preparation and increased spatial heterogeneity (i.e., undeveloped patches in solar fields) reduce negative effects of solar energy development on desert ants. However, our results suggest that ants may serve as useful bioindicators of the severity of anthropogenic disturbance from solar energy development in deserts, and indicator analysis signifies that solar energy infrastructure may negatively affect some species with high ecological value (e.g., harvester ants). Negative effects of solar energy development on ants can have significant implications for desert ecosystem function and integrity, but conservation-minded solar facility design and construction may lead to avoidance of “bottom-up” ecological ramifications of increased solar production during the renewable energy transition.


U.S. Bureau of Land Management: L19AC00279


Data contact name

Roeder, Karl

Data contact email


Ag Data Commons

Temporal Extent Start Date


Temporal Extent End Date



  • Not specified

Geographic Coverage


Geographic location - description

Ivanpah Solar Power Facility

ISO Topic Category

  • biota

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

solar energy; Formicidae; Mojave Desert; land use change; ecosystems; environmental factors; environmental impact; deserts; site preparation; species richness; spatial variation; anthropogenic activities; ecological value; ecological function; functional diversity

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:18 - Agricultural Research Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:040 - National Research

ARS National Program Number

  • 304

Pending citation

  • No

Related material without URL

Grodsky SM, Roeder KA, Campbell JW. Accepted. Effects of solar energy development on ants in the Mojave Desert.

Public Access Level

  • Public

Preferred dataset citation

Grodsky, Steven M.; Roeder, Karl A.; Campbell, Joshua W. (2023). Data from: Effects of solar energy development on ants in the Mojave Desert. Ag Data Commons.

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