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Journal Article

An Experimental Investigation of Inter-Relationships Between the Wood-Ant (Formica rufa) and Some Tree-Canopy Herbivores

G. J. Skinner and J. B. Whittaker
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 50, No. 1 (Feb., 1981), pp. 313-326
DOI: 10.2307/4047
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4047
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
An Experimental Investigation of Inter-Relationships Between the Wood-Ant (Formica rufa) and Some Tree-Canopy Herbivores
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Abstract

(1) Previous work on interactions between F. rufa and some canopy herbivores is briefly reviewed. (2) In limestone woodland in N. England, populations of defoliators (illustrated by the Winter Moth, Operophtera brumata L.), a non-tended aphid species (Drepanosiphum platanoidis Schr.) and a tended aphid species (Periphyllus testudinaceus Fernie), are all affected by the presence of the ant. (3) Predation of D. platanoidis by F. rufa results in significant depression of the population compared with experimental conditions where ants were excluded from shoots. (4) Trees without ants have significantly higher populations of Lepidoptera larvae than do foraged trees. (5) On trees with ants an average of 1% of the leaf area had been removed by defoliators at the end of the season; without ants the total was nearly 8%. (6) Formica rufa tended eight aphid species and one psyllid in the woodland. The association of F. rufa with one of the aphids (P. testudinaceus) was studied. (7) Periphyllus testudinaceus populations were significantly increased in the presence of ants. When ants were excluded from colonies on shoots a significant fall in numbers occurred. There was probably also a reduction in the proportion of alatae. (8) The results are discussed in relation to previous work on aphid predation by ants and to the practice of introducing ants into woodland to protect trees from the effects of defoliators. It is concluded that this practice may be ill-founded.

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