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Consequences of behavioral vs. numerical dominance on foraging activity of desert seed-eating ants

Udi Segev and Yaron Ziv
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Vol. 66, No. 4 (April 2012), pp. 623-632
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41501759
Page Count: 10
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Consequences of behavioral vs. numerical dominance on foraging activity of desert seed-eating ants
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Abstract

Dominance relationships among species play a major role in the structure of animal communities. Yet, dominant species with different trade-offs in resource exploitation and monopolization could affect community structure in variable ways. In ants, dominant species could be classified into either behavioral dominants that exhibit territorial aggression or numerical dominants that exhibit high biomass or frequency of occurrence. While each class of dominance has generally been found to negatively affect the foraging activity of species in ant communities, the concurrent effect of both classes of species has never been tested. Here, we examined the effects of two behaviorally dominant species, Crematogaster inermis and Monomorium salomonis, and a numerically dominant species, Messor arenarias, on the foraging behavior of seed-eating species in a desert ant assemblage. In a 1-year study, the foraging activity of the ant species was assessed using seed baits, which were sampled during night and day. While the numerically dominant species exhibited high foraging efficiency and negatively affected the ability of other seed-eating species to obtain seeds, significantly more seeds remained at baits that were occupied the previous night by each of the two behaviorally dominant species, possibly due to aggressive exclusion of M. arenarius foragers from the baits. This exclusion also facilitated greater foraging activity of the seed-eating species. Our results demonstrate how these two types of dominance could differently affect the foraging activity of ant species in the community.

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