Progress toward an inventory of the ants (Hymenoptera_ Formicidae) of Santa Barbara County, California
California is a hotbed of floral and faunal species diversity. Santa Barbara County is a 4000 square mile area on the central California coast. It has four distinct ecoregions: Southern California Coast, Southern California Mountains and Valleys, Central California Coast, and Central Valley Coast which include chaparral and coastal sage scrub habitats. Santa Barbara County also includes four of the eight Channel Islands, which has a similar assemblage of habitats as the mainland, and a recent history of invasive ant eradication projects. In 2018, we began to compile an inventory of ant species that occur in the county, obtaining records from online digitized collections including AntWeb, GBIF, Symbiota Collections of Arthropods Network, Ecdysis, and iNaturalist. We included our own sampling from North Campus Open Space (NCOS), a recent coastal saltmarsh restoration site, and the Coal Oil Point Reserve (COPR), part of the UC Natural Reserve System. From this effort we found 66 species across 27 genera within Santa Barbara County including new records from our sampling sites. This checklist was built using Symbiota’s built-in check-list creation software. The coastal restoration sites proved to be less diverse and contain more invasive species than other areas within Santa Barbara County. In conclusion, the ongoing 2-year data collection from NCOS and COPR is a small part of a larger effort to expand the known ant species of Santa Barbara County. To provide a more comprehensive picture of the regional ant diversity, more targeted ant sampling in each ecoregion is needed.