Presentation Title

The Effects of Helianthella quinquenervis Extra Floral Nectaries on Ant Abundance and Community Structure

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Location

HUB 302-#94

Type of Presentation

Poster

Abstract

The beneficial effects of ants to myrmecophilous species is well established, but there is little empirical evidence demonstrating the benefits of such interactions for ants. The intent of this experiment was to determine how ants are affected by their interaction with the Aspen sunflower (Helianthella quinquenervis). Ants forage on Aspen sunflower extra floral nectaries (EFN) as a carbohydrate source. Twenty 7 m diameter plots were established in a field site (Maxfield Meadow) located at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic Colorado. Half of the plots had EFN removed, the others did not. Through pitfall traps it was found that four groups of ants occupy the meadow, Tapinoma sessile, Myrmicinae, Formica fusca, and Formica rufa. By doing visual surveys of plant stems, it was found that Formica fusca and Tapinoma sessile are the predominant taxa foraging on EFN. Forager and colony abundance was not affected by EFN removal based upon pitfall trapping and examination of artificial nesting structures (bricks), respectively. However ants within the EFN removal plots recruited to (marginally significant) and consumed significantly more 20% sugar solution baits than do the ants within the control plots. These findings gave evidence that ants do not necessarily depend on EFN from Aspen sunflowers as a carbohydrate source, however, they utilize the carbohydrate source as much as possible, and most likely receive less carbohydrates when they are deprived of EFN.

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The Effects of Helianthella quinquenervis Extra Floral Nectaries on Ant Abundance and Community Structure

HUB 302-#94

The beneficial effects of ants to myrmecophilous species is well established, but there is little empirical evidence demonstrating the benefits of such interactions for ants. The intent of this experiment was to determine how ants are affected by their interaction with the Aspen sunflower (Helianthella quinquenervis). Ants forage on Aspen sunflower extra floral nectaries (EFN) as a carbohydrate source. Twenty 7 m diameter plots were established in a field site (Maxfield Meadow) located at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic Colorado. Half of the plots had EFN removed, the others did not. Through pitfall traps it was found that four groups of ants occupy the meadow, Tapinoma sessile, Myrmicinae, Formica fusca, and Formica rufa. By doing visual surveys of plant stems, it was found that Formica fusca and Tapinoma sessile are the predominant taxa foraging on EFN. Forager and colony abundance was not affected by EFN removal based upon pitfall trapping and examination of artificial nesting structures (bricks), respectively. However ants within the EFN removal plots recruited to (marginally significant) and consumed significantly more 20% sugar solution baits than do the ants within the control plots. These findings gave evidence that ants do not necessarily depend on EFN from Aspen sunflowers as a carbohydrate source, however, they utilize the carbohydrate source as much as possible, and most likely receive less carbohydrates when they are deprived of EFN.