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Impact of plant cover on the cavity‐nesting ant Temnothorax crassispinus
- MITRUS, SŁAWOMIR, MOROŃ, DAWID, NOWAK, ARKADIUSZ
- Ecological entomology 2017 v.42 no.6 pp. 748-757
- Impatiens parviflora, Temnothorax, environmental factors, field experimentation, herbaceous plants, nesting sites, nests, plant communities, sex ratio
- 1. Plant communities influence the availability of important resources for ants, such as nest sites and food, as well as environmental conditions. Thus, plants affect the abundance and distribution of ants. 2. In a field experiment, the influence of plant cover on the settlement of nest sites and per‐capita productivity of sexual individuals by the ant Temnothorax crassispinus was analysed. In July 2014, in five areas with patches of alien balsam Impatiens parviflora, and another five of native balsam I. noli‐tangere, transects composed of artificial nests were established; the nest sites were situated inside patches of balsams, and outside of them. Four hundred and forty artificial nests were used. One year later, the nests were collected. 3. Colonies of the ants three times more often inhabited nest sites outside the patches of both balsams. Besides, colonies with queens were more frequently found in nest sites located away from balsams. The per‐capita productivity of sexual individuals was higher in nests collected in patches of balsam, and the colonies from patches of alien balsam produced a more female‐biased sex ratio. 4. In terms of the impact on the ant, no clear differences were found between the alien balsam and the native one. The most important factor affecting the fitness of ants in areas dominated by balsams is the presence of herbaceous plant cover rather than whether the plant is alien or native.