Resource discovery in ant communities: do food type and quantity matter?

Authors

  • JESSICA M. C. PEARCE-DUVET,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.
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      Current address: Estación Biológica de Doñana – CSIC, c/Americo Vespucio s/n 41092 Sevilla, Spain.

  • DONALD H. FEENER Jr

    1. Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.
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Jessica M. C. Pearce-Duvet, Department of Biology, University of Utah, 257 South 1400 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, U.S.A. E-mail: jmcolette.pearce@gmail.com

Abstract

1. Omnivorous woodland ant species trade off between the ability to find and behaviourally control food resources. Dominant species can limit the ability of subordinates to harvest certain food items. However, subordinate species, by being faster discoverers, could gain access to such food items by arriving at them first.

2. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that resource-directed discovery occurs in ant communities and that good discoverers preferentially discover high value resources. We did this by measuring time to discovery and the number of discoveries of high and low levels of two resource types, crickets and honey, for species occurring in Texas and Arizona woodland ant communities.

3. Ants discovered resources roughly 10 times faster in Texas than in Arizona. They discovered crickets more rapidly than honey in both communities, but there was no difference in the discovery of different resource levels. We also found that species were not biased in their discovery of different resource types or levels.

4. These results provide indirect evidence that discovery is directed by resource stimuli but that such directedness does not impact interspecific exploitative competition.

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