oa African Entomology - The effect of seed foraging and utilization by the granivorous ant Messor capensis (Mayr) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on the grassveld composition of the central Orange Free State
Messar capensis (Mayr) is a granivorous ant that is widely distributed in the semi-arid grassveld of the Orange Free State, South Africa. The effect it has on the grassveld of the central Orange Free State was examined. The foraged items are taken into the nests and redundant material is discarded in refuse heaps. One percent of Tragus koelerioides Aschers., 7.5 % of Eragrostis obtusa Munro ex Fix. & Hiern. and 58 % of the Eragrostis superba Peyr. Seeds foraged were discarded on the refuse heaps. The nitrogen content of refuse heap soil was greater (0.15 %) than that of 0-3 cm topsoil in the adjacent veld (0.08 %). This, together with the viable seeds in the refuse heaps, contributed to increased density of plant cover on the nest. Colonies migrate, and the cycle of foraging, increase in plant cover and migration is continually repeated. The foraging pattern of M. capensis contributes to seed dispersal, a dense plant cover and progression towards a climax plant community.
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