Crab regulation of cross-ecosystem resource transfer by marine foraging fire ants

Erica Garcia, Mark Bertness, Juan Alberti, Brian Silliman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Permeability of boundaries in biological systems is regulated by biotic and/or abiotic factors. Despite this knowledge, the role of biotic factors in regulating resource transfer across ecosystem boundaries has received little study. Additionally, little is known about how cross-ecosystem resource transfer affects source populations. We used experiments, observations and stable isotopes, to evaluate: (1) the proportion of intertidal-foraging black fire ant (Solenopsis richteri) diet derived from marine sources, (2) how black fire ant cross-ecosystem resource transfer is altered by the dominant bioengineer in the intertidal, a burrowing crab (Neohelice granulata), (3) the top-down impact of these terrestrial ants on a marine resource, and (4) the effect of marine resources on recipient black fire ants. We found that more than 85% of the black fire ant diet is derived from marine sources, the number of intertidal foraging ants doubles in the absence of crab burrows, and that ants cause a 50% reduction in intertidal polychaetes. Also, ant mound density is three times greater adjacent to marine systems. This study reveals that cross-ecosystem foraging terrestrial ants can clearly have strong impacts on marine resources. Furthermore, ecosystem engineers that modify and occupy habitat in these ecosystem boundaries can strongly regulate the degree of cross-ecosystem resource transfer and resultant top down impacts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1111-1119
    Number of pages9
    JournalOecologia
    Volume166
    Issue number4
    Early online date11 Mar 2011
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Fingerprint

    fire ants
    ant
    crab
    crabs
    foraging
    marine resources
    ecosystems
    ecosystem
    Formicidae
    resource
    marine resource
    Solenopsis richteri
    ant nests
    burrowing
    burrows
    diet
    Polychaeta
    stable isotopes
    regulation
    permeability

    Cite this

    Garcia, Erica ; Bertness, Mark ; Alberti, Juan ; Silliman, Brian. / Crab regulation of cross-ecosystem resource transfer by marine foraging fire ants. In: Oecologia. 2011 ; Vol. 166, No. 4. pp. 1111-1119.
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    abstract = "Permeability of boundaries in biological systems is regulated by biotic and/or abiotic factors. Despite this knowledge, the role of biotic factors in regulating resource transfer across ecosystem boundaries has received little study. Additionally, little is known about how cross-ecosystem resource transfer affects source populations. We used experiments, observations and stable isotopes, to evaluate: (1) the proportion of intertidal-foraging black fire ant (Solenopsis richteri) diet derived from marine sources, (2) how black fire ant cross-ecosystem resource transfer is altered by the dominant bioengineer in the intertidal, a burrowing crab (Neohelice granulata), (3) the top-down impact of these terrestrial ants on a marine resource, and (4) the effect of marine resources on recipient black fire ants. We found that more than 85{\%} of the black fire ant diet is derived from marine sources, the number of intertidal foraging ants doubles in the absence of crab burrows, and that ants cause a 50{\%} reduction in intertidal polychaetes. Also, ant mound density is three times greater adjacent to marine systems. This study reveals that cross-ecosystem foraging terrestrial ants can clearly have strong impacts on marine resources. Furthermore, ecosystem engineers that modify and occupy habitat in these ecosystem boundaries can strongly regulate the degree of cross-ecosystem resource transfer and resultant top down impacts.",
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    Crab regulation of cross-ecosystem resource transfer by marine foraging fire ants. / Garcia, Erica; Bertness, Mark; Alberti, Juan; Silliman, Brian.

    In: Oecologia, Vol. 166, No. 4, 2011, p. 1111-1119.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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