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Stable isotopes: past and future in exposing secrets of ant nutrition (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Title data

Feldhaar, Heike ; Gebauer, Gerhard ; Blüthgen, Nico:
Stable isotopes: past and future in exposing secrets of ant nutrition (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).
In: Myrmecological News. Vol. 13 (2010) . - pp. 3-13.
ISSN 1994-4136

Official URL: Volltext

Abstract in another language

Ants can utilize a large variety of food sources, and this ability contributes to their ecological and evolutionary success. Their broad dietary niche, however, in conjunction with their sociality, makes this group of animals notoriously difficult to study with respect to nutritional ecology. Natural-abundance-stable-isotope studies are a useful tool for assessing the trophic position of ants in food webs. In theory, they may also help to assess the relative contribution of food sources to their biomass, although such quantitative estimates have to be taken with caution. Consumers are typically enriched in (15)N and sometimes (13)C relative to their diet. The magnitude of enrichment may be influenced by feeding mode, diet quality and possibly nitrogen-recycling endosymbiotic bacteria. We provide an estimate of the enrichment of stable isotopes relative to a chemically defined diet for the ant Camponotus floridanus (BUCKLEY, 1866) and show that their endosymbiotic bacteria do not significantly alter the enrichment process. The average enrichment of C. floridanus pupae to their diet was 3.0 parts per thousand for (15)N and 1.1 parts per thousand for (13)C. Stable isotopes have also been used successfully for studying nutrient fluxes utilizing compounds enriched in either (15)N or (13)C as tracers. Such studies can help to elucidate nutrient fluxes, for example within an ant colony or between ants and other organisms such as plants. They may also clarify whether certain compounds can be metabolized by ants at all. Here we present an overview of topics and questions that can be addressed using stable-isotope methods. We discuss experimental design, sampling methods and potential pitfalls when applying stable-isotope techniques. We point out fields of research in ant biology that can be explored more extensively with stable-isotope analyses.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Additional notes: BAYCEER73444
BAYCEER102009
Institutions of the University: Faculties
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Chair Animal Ecology I
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Professorship Animal Population Ecology
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Biology > Professorship Animal Population Ecology > Professorship Animal Population Ecology - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Heike Feldhaar
Research Institutions > Research Centres > Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research- BayCEER
Research Institutions
Research Institutions > Research Centres
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 500 Science > 500 Natural sciences
500 Science > 570 Life sciences, biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2015 06:51
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2015 13:34
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/10788