n African Entomology - The impact of an invasive ant, (Mayr) (Hymenoptera : Formicidae), on the dispersal of the elaiosome-bearing seeds of six plant species

Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1021-3589



has invaded pristine areas in the Western Cape Province, South Africa, displacing important myrmecochorous ant species. The impact of this invasion on the dispersal of six species of elaiosome-bearing seeds varying in size, shape and mass was investigated. failed to disperse heavy elaiosome-bearing seeds, although it readily removed lighter seeds like those of . This suggests that areas dominated by small ant species like would be characterized by low dispersal rates for heavy seeds. Indigenous ants in areas uninvaded and invaded by did not respond equally well to six elaiosome-bearing seeds. More of the heavier than the lighter and seeds were removed by ants in uninvaded areas. In invaded areas the heavier seeds were dispersed more readily than the lighter seeds. There was no indication of any specificity in the seed-ant interaction because the introduced ant, , dispersed smaller seeds. In addition, , which occurs naturally in the study area, was not taken preferentially to other species of seed by myrmecochorous ants.

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