A comparison of floral resource exploitation by native and invasive Argentine ants

Lach, Lori (2013) A comparison of floral resource exploitation by native and invasive Argentine ants. Arthropod-Plant Interactions, 7 (2). pp. 177-190.

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Ants are often considered antagonists when they visit flowers because they typically steal nectar without providing pollination services. Previous research on ant-flower interactions on two species of South African Proteaceae in the Cape Floral Kingdom revealed that the invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile), but not native ants, displace other floral arthropod visitors. To determine how common Argentine ant use of inflorescences is, how Argentine and native ant visits differ in the numbers they recruit to inflorescences, and what factors may affect Argentine and native ant foraging in inflorescences, I surveyed 723 inflorescences in 10 species in the genera Protea and Leucospermum across 16 sites and compared ant presence and abundance in inflorescences with abundance at nearby cat food and jam baits. Argentine ants were the most commonly encountered ant of the 22 observed. Argentine ants, as well as six species of native ants were present in all inflorescences for which they were present at nearby baits. Mean Argentine ant abundance per inflorescence was 4.4 ± 0.84 (SE) ants and similar to that of Anoplolepis custodiens, and Crematogaster peringueyi, but higher than observed for the other most commonly encountered native ants, Camponotus niveosetosus, and Lepisiota capensis. Both Argentine ants and A. custodiens were more likely to be found foraging in spring and under humid conditions, and in inflorescences closer to the ground, with lower sucrose concentrations, and with a greater proportion of open flowers. Argentine ants were more likely to be found in Protea inflorescences, whereas A. custodiens and L. capensis more often visited Leucospermum inflorescences. Considering its displacement of floral arthropods and widespread use of Proteaceae inflorescences, the Argentine ant could be posing a serious threat to plant and pollinator conservation in this biodiversity hotspot.

Item ID: 28121
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-8847
Keywords: Cape Floral Kingdom, Leucospermum, Linepithema humile, native ants, nectar thieving, Protea, proteaceae
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2013 00:03
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050103 Invasive Species Ecology @ 80%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 90%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960499 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species not elsewhere classified @ 10%
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