Modification of Diet and Foraging Range by Harvester Ants in Response to Altered Seed Availability View Full Text


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Article Info

DATE

2018-07

AUTHORS

Ian C. Robertson, Matthew S. Schmasow

ABSTRACT

Food collection is a critical component of an individual’s life, and for eusocial insects, the colony that individual foragers support and maintain. Changes to the distribution and composition of food types in the environment are expected influence diet selection if the economics of foraging are altered. For seed-harvesting ants, the abundance and composition of seed types available on the ground typically shows a high degree of spatial and temporal variability, and not all types of seed are equally valued by foragers. We evaluated the response of Owyhee harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex salinus) to reductions in the availability of Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda) seeds, a preferred food type, while leaving the availability of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) seeds, a less favored food type, unmanipulated. At control colonies (N = 8), cheatgrass seeds comprised 3.9 ± 1.6% of total seed intake, while Sandberg bluegrass seeds accounted for the remainder of the diet. At colonies where bluegrass was trimmed to prevent new seeds from dropping within 12 m of the nest (N = 8), cheatgrass seed intake increased significantly to 8.2 ± 1.4% of the diet. Despite the uptick in collection of cheatgrass seeds, bluegrass seed collection remained high and very similar between treatment and control colonies. Treatment colonies were significantly more likely than control colonies to have at least one trunk trail that extended beyond the 12 m foraging range of the colony, and ants returning along these trails carried bluegrass seeds but not cheatgrass seeds. These results suggest that when preferred seeds dropped in abundance near nests, the economics of foraging by harvester ants favored a small increase in acceptance of less preferred seeds as well as more distant forays to locate and collect preferred seeds. More... »

PAGES

361-372

References to SciGraph publications

  • 2015-11. Reclaiming Lost Territory: the Response of Owyhee Harvester Ants to Forager Intrusions by Neighboring Colonies in JOURNAL OF INSECT BEHAVIOR
  • 2000-12. Harvester ant response to spatial and temporal heterogeneity in seed availability: pattern in the process of granivory in OECOLOGIA
  • 1986-09. Native seed preferences of shrub-steppe rodents, birds and ants: the relationships of seed attributes and seed use in OECOLOGIA
  • 1991-11. Flexible seed selection by individual harvester ants, Pogonomyrmex occidentalis in BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY
  • 2000-10. Foraging, food selection and worker size in the seed harvesting ant Messor bouvieri in OECOLOGIA
  • 1987-06. Optimal and central-place foraging theory applied to a desert harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex californicus in OECOLOGIA
  • 2016-09. Assessing Microhabitat Cover and Distance Effects on Harvester Ant Intraspecific Seed Preference in JOURNAL OF INSECT BEHAVIOR
  • 1995-05. Foraging in the seed-harvester ant genus Pogonomyrmex: are energy costs important? in BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY
  • 1976-03. Geleitwort in BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY
  • 2010-03. Influence of seed size on feeding preferences and diet composition of three sympatric harvester ants in the central Monte Desert, Argentina in ECOLOGICAL RESEARCH
  • 2005-06. A stochastic model of seed dispersal pattern to assess seed predation by ants in annual dry grasslands in PLANT ECOLOGY
  • 2012-12. Seasonal patterns in the foraging ecology of the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex naegelii (Formicidae, Myrmicinae) in a Neotropical savanna: daily rhythms, shifts in granivory and carnivory, and home range in ARTHROPOD-PLANT INTERACTIONS
  • 2000-02. A field assessment of optimal foraging in ants: trail patterns and seed retrieval by the European harvester ant Messor barbarus in INSECTES SOCIAUX
  • 1978-03. Experimental tests of the optimal diet in two social insects in BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY
  • 1998-05. Foraging behavior and morphology: seed selection in the harvester ant genus, Pogonomyrmex in OECOLOGIA
  • Journal

    TITLE

    Journal of Insect Behavior

    ISSUE

    4

    VOLUME

    31

    Author Affiliations

    Identifiers

    URI

    http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1007/s10905-018-9685-x

    DOI

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10905-018-9685-x

    DIMENSIONS

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