An Artificial Aril Designed to Induce Seed Hauling by Ants for Ecological Rehabilitation Purposes


I. Armbrecht, email


Ants are effective at moving seeds toward their nests, something that may benefit the seeds. We evaluated whether seed movements that may be useful for the rehabilitation of degraded pastures in Colombia can be enhanced by local ants. An artificial aril was prepared and then evaluated in six open cattle pasture farms. Twenty paper disks (each holding seeds with an artificial aril, honey, tuna oil, and control) were set up along linear transects at each farm, and monitored five times in 48 hours. A total of 340 out of 480 seeds were moved from the experimental units by ants. Seeds with tuna oil and an artificial aril were removed twice as frequently as the control and honey smeared seeds. Ectatomma ruidum, Solenopsis geminata, and Pheidole sp. removed the majority of seeds. Advantages of the artificial aril over tuna oil are discussed. This inexpensive technique can enhance seed movement by generalist ants in degraded pastures, likely contributing to regeneration and ecological rehabilitation.