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Trophic ecology of parabiotic ants: Do the partners have similar food niches?

Title data

Menzel, Florian ; Staab, Michael ; Chung, Arthur Y. C. ; Gebauer, Gerhard ; Blüthgen, Nico:
Trophic ecology of parabiotic ants: Do the partners have similar food niches?
In: Austral Ecology. Vol. 37 (2012) Issue 5 . - pp. 537-546.
ISSN 1442-9993

Abstract in another language

Organisms associated with another species may experience both costs and benefits from their partner.One of these costs is competition, which is the more likely if the two species are ecologically similar. Parabioses areassociations between two ant species that share a nest and often attend the same food sources. Albeit parabioses areprobably mutualistic, parabiotic partners may compete for food. We therefore investigated feeding niches anddietary overlap of two parabiotically associated ants in Borneo using cafeteria experiments and stable isotopeanalyses. The two species strongly differed in their food choices. While Crematogaster modiglianii mostly foraged atcarbohydrate-rich baits, Camponotus rufifemur preferred urea-rich sources. Both species also consumed animalprotein.The 15N concentration in Ca. rufifemur workers was consistently lower than in Cr. modiglianii. Camponotusrufifemur but not Cr. modiglianii possesses microbial endosymbionts, which can metabolize urea and synthesizeessential amino acids. Its lower 15N signature may result from a relatively higher intake of plant-based or otherwise15N-depleted nitrogen. Isotopic signatures of the two partners in the same parabiosis showed strongly parallelvariation across nests. As we did not find evidence for spatial autocorrelation, this correlation suggests an overlapof food sources between the two ant species. Based on model simulations, we estimated a diet overlap of 22–66%for nitrogen sources and 45–74% for carbon sources. The overlap may arise from either joint exploitation of thesame food sources or trophallactic exchange of food. This suggests an intense trophic interaction and potential forcompetition between the parabiotic partners.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Additional notes: BAYCEER98791
Institutions of the University: 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
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2015 06:59
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2015 06:59