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n African Entomology - The impact of an invasive ant, (Mayr), on the dispersal of Aiton seeds in South Africa

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Abstract

Myrmecochory, or seed dispersal by ants, is a mutualistic plant-ant interaction common to the fire-prone shrublands of the southwestern Cape, South Africa. Elaiosome-bearing seeds are located rapidly by ants and transported to nests where they are protected from granivorous rodents, desiccation and fire. This interaction is threatened by the invasive Argentine ant, , which has displaced important myrmecochorous ant species in previously undisturbed areas. The impact of this infestation was assessed. , which was active mainly at night, dispersed few seeds and removed most of the elaiosomes . The majority of seeds were dispersed from invaded areas during the day by two indigenous species of ants, and . Dispersal in uninvaded areas occurred mainly between 19:00 and 21:00 but was generally spread over a 24-hour period, indicating the participation of a complex of ant species. Significantly more seeds were dispersed in uninvaded areas than in areas invaded by . In invaded areas, there were no significant differences in the numbers of seeds dispersed by ants and the numbers eaten by rodents. In contrast, significantly more seeds were dispersed by ants than were eaten by rodents in uninvaded areas.

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/content/ento/12/2/EJC32607
2004-09-01
2016-12-05
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