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Article 11

A shift in seed harvesting by ants following Argentine ant invasion

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J. OLIVERAS*, J. M. BAS, C. GÓMEZ
Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Girona, Campus de Montilivi s/n, 17071 Girona, Spain
*corresponding author: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

ABSTRACT. – The effect of Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) invasion on the dispersal -predation balance of non-myrmecochorous seeds by ants and vertebrates is analyzed. Three Papilionaceae, Calicotome spinosa, Psoralea bituminosa, and Spartium junceum, were studied. The seeds were made available in field trials during 48 hour periods using ant and vertebrate exclusions in zones invaded by L. humile and non-invaded zones. The Argentine ant invasion resulted in the displacement of most of the native ant species, including the single seed predator ant in the non-invaded zone, Messor bouvieri. Consequently, the level of seed removal by ants was lower in the invaded zone for the three seed species. This could produce two opposite effects for the plant: a positive reduction of seed predation and a negative loss of seed dispersal due to diszoochory (the seed dispersal performed by seed eating ants). The three studied species suffered different intensities of seed removal by ants in the non-invaded zone, so they would be affected to varying degrees after the invasion. The level of seed removal by vertebrates was lower than seed removal by ants and was similar in the invaded and non-invaded zones and for the three seed species.

You are here: Volume 57 (2007) Issue 1 / 2 Article 11
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