Extrafloral nectar as a driver of ant community spatial structure along disturbance and rainfall gradients in Brazilian dry forest

Carlos Henrique Félix Da Silva, Xavier Arnan, Alan N. Andersen, Inara R. Leal

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Although extrafloral nectar (EFN) is a key food resource for arboreal ants, its role in structuring ground-nesting ant communities has received little attention, despite these ants also being frequent EFN-attendants. We investigated the role of EFN as a driver of the spatial structure of ground-nesting ant communities occurring in dry forest in north-eastern Brazil. We examined the effects on this relationship of two global drivers of biodiversity decline, chronic anthropogenic disturbance and climate change (through decreasing rainfall). We mapped EFN-producing plants and ant nests in 20 plots distributed along independent gradients of disturbance and rainfall. We categorized ant species into three types according to their dependence on EFN: Heavy users, occasional users and non-users. We found a strong relationship between ant dependence on EFN and nest proximity to EFN-producing plants: Heavy-users (mean distance 1.1 m) nested closer to EFN-producing plants than did occasional users (1.7 m), which in turn nested closer to EFN-producing plants than did non-users (2.3 m). Neither disturbance nor rainfall affected the proximity of heavy-user nests to EFN-producing plants. Our study shows for the first time that EFN is a key driver of the spatial structure of entire communities of ground-nesting ants.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)280-287
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Tropical Ecology
    Volume35
    Issue number6
    Early online date11 Oct 2019
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

    Fingerprint

    dry forest
    nectar
    dry forests
    ant
    Formicidae
    rain
    disturbance
    rainfall
    nest
    nests
    ant nests
    anthropogenic activities
    community structure
    climate change
    biodiversity
    Brazil

    Cite this

    Da Silva, Carlos Henrique Félix ; Arnan, Xavier ; Andersen, Alan N. ; Leal, Inara R. / Extrafloral nectar as a driver of ant community spatial structure along disturbance and rainfall gradients in Brazilian dry forest. In: Journal of Tropical Ecology. 2019 ; Vol. 35, No. 6. pp. 280-287.
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    Extrafloral nectar as a driver of ant community spatial structure along disturbance and rainfall gradients in Brazilian dry forest. / Da Silva, Carlos Henrique Félix; Arnan, Xavier; Andersen, Alan N.; Leal, Inara R.

    In: Journal of Tropical Ecology, Vol. 35, No. 6, 01.11.2019, p. 280-287.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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