Numerically dominant species drive patterns in resource use along a vertical gradient in tropical ant assemblages

Law, Stephanie J and Parr, Catherine ORCID: 0000-0003-1627-763X
(2020) Numerically dominant species drive patterns in resource use along a vertical gradient in tropical ant assemblages. BIOTROPICA, 52 (1). pp. 101-112.

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Resource availability can influence the foraging strategy adopted by different ant species as they endeavor to meet nutrient demands of the colony. In tropical rain forests, environmental conditions including resource availability vary over a vertical gradient. Consequently, nitrogen is predicted to become more limiting than carbohydrates toward the canopy as food webs shift to become more reliant on plant‐based resources. We used a “bait‐choice” experiment in a tropical rain forest to examine differences in protein and carbohydrate use with height and determined whether there were differences in response between common (numerically dominant) and rare species. Additionally, we investigated the nutrient use at the species level. Using species co‐occurrence analysis, we examined interspecific competition by testing the co‐occurrence of ant species at the tree level. Over the 12 trees investigated, 124 morphospecies were identified with eight species comprising 90% of total ant abundance. Species richness and protein use increased with height of bait for all species pooled and for common species but not rare species. Correspondingly, relative carbohydrate use decreased with height. We found greater species richness of rare species on carbohydrate baits compared with protein baits. Ant species were randomly distributed among trees when all species were included in co‐occurrence analysis. However, when only common species were considered, segregation between species was evident among trees providing evidence for the presence of ant mosaics. Our results suggest that nitrogen limitation in the canopy may not be true for the whole ant assemblage but rather for the few common species.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: ant mosaics, Borneo, carbohydrate, dominance, non-dominance, nutrient limitation, protein, tropical rain forest
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2020 11:17
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 00:09
DOI: 10.1111/btp.12743
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