Environmental heterogeneity and interspecific interactions influence nest occupancy by key seed-dispersing ants Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • ABSTRACT The complex interplay between species along environmental gradients ultimately shapes their distributions and additional community interactions. Ant-mediated seed dispersal fails in the wettest habitat of deciduous forest in eastern North America, and we examine whether this pattern corresponds with colony distributions for seed-dispersing ants and associated heterogeneity in abiotic and biotic variables. Specifically, we used spatial variation in soil moisture, temperature and diffuse light along natural habitat gradients and experimentally manipulated soil moisture gradients to examine ant habitat selection. We also examined niche segregation between effective (Aphaenogaster spp.) and ineffective (Lasius alienus Foerster) seed-dispersing ants across these environmental gradients. Whereas most research links ant foraging and nesting with temperature gradients, we find niche segregation between Aphaenogaster spp. and L. alienus by soil moisture along naturally occurring gradients and in experimen...

publication date

  • January 1, 2012