Skip to main content

Island area, not isolation, drives taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity of ants on land-bridge islands

Cite this dataset

Zhao, Yuhao et al. (2021). Island area, not isolation, drives taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity of ants on land-bridge islands [Dataset]. Dryad.


Aim: To explore the impact of island area and isolation on multiple dimensions of ant biodiversity (taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional diversity) and the underlying processes of community assembly on islands.

Location: Thousand Island Lake, Zhejiang, China, created by dam construction in 1959.

Taxon: Ants.

Methods: We sampled ants on 33 islands, built a species-level phylogenetic tree and measured five morphological traits of all species collected to estimate taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional diversity. We used multiple linear regression models and null models to examine the relationships between diversity metrics and island variables (area and isolation).

Results: We recorded 97 ant species on the study islands. We verified positive diversity–area relationships for species richness, phylogenetic diversity, and functional diversity. However, although functional and phylogenetic community structure were indistinguishable from random communities, phylogenetic structure tended to be clustered, whereas functional structure tended to be over dispersed. Additionally, we found the structure of ant communities shifted from phylogenetic and functional clustering on smaller islands to phylogenetic and functional overdispersion on larger islands.

Main conclusions: Our results support the hypothesis that environmental filtering is the dominant process structuring ant communities on smaller islands, and that competitive exclusion becomes more important on larger islands. Thus, island area acts as an important filter even though ant community structure on the study islands was indistinguishable from random communities. Moreover, our results show that environmental filtering influences phylogenetic community structure of ants, whereas competitive exclusion influences functional community structure of ants. These findings highlight the need to examine both phylogenetic and functional diversity in order to understand the mechanisms that govern the assembly of natural communities on islands.

Usage notes

The community data (both as island and transect scale), trait data, phylogenetic tree, and island variables used to estimate the taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diveristy and structure of ants on islands in the Thousand Island Lake, China.


National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 315,722,503,187,221,000,000,000

Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, Award: #2019QNA6002

Shanghai Rising-Star Program, Award: 19QA1403300