Aphaenogaster cockerelli are primarily foragers and seed harvesters. As such, they contribute to their environments by composting detritus and dispersing the seeds of the plants that they eat (Holldöbler and Wilson, 1990: 427).
The nests that these ants build positively affect the surrounding soil. They bring dead animal and plant matter that decomposes and enriches the soil, adding nutrients to the surrounding area. In addition, their tunnels aerate the soil, enhancing water flow and evaporation. As a consequence, the soil surrounding a nest site supports a significantly higher biomass than soil elsewhere (Whitford, Barness, and Steinberger, 2007: 398).
This species also impedes the foraging of species with which it competes by dropping debris into the tunnel entrances of Pagonamyrmex barbaius before the species begins foraging for the day. This shortens the length of time the species may spend foraging each day by three hours, as this time must be spent re-excavating the tunnel (Holldöbler and Wilson, 1990: 417).
Key ways these animals impact their ecosystem: disperses seeds, creates habitat, soil aeration.