EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Estimating the global geomorphological importance of ants in the Anthropocene

Heather Viles1, Andrew Goudie1, and Alice Goudie2
Heather Viles et al.
  • 1University of Oxford, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford, UK (
  • 2Emu Analytics, 1 St John’s Lane, Farringdon, London EC1M 4BL, UK

Ants are active, numerous and widespread across most landscapes on Earth. They are known to be geomorphologically important, through a range of activities (such as production of galleries and mounds) by which they move and store sediment both above and below ground. They also co-exist and interact with a wide range of other geomorphologically-active organisms, sometimes resulting in complex influences on the landscape (as ant mounds can influence soils and plant biodiversity, for example). Human impacts in the Anthropocene are having direct and indirect impacts on the geomorphological importance of ants – through species invasions, climate change etc. A geolocated database of over 100 studies, covering more than 60 ant species, carried out in Europe, Africa, South America, southern Africa, USA and Australia, is used to produce some estimates of the global impacts of ants within the Anthropocene, including a first order estimate of 7.5 – 10 Gt sediment moved per year by ants across the land surface.

How to cite: Viles, H., Goudie, A., and Goudie, A.: Estimating the global geomorphological importance of ants in the Anthropocene, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10183,, 2021.


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