The evolution of ant-dispersal in a spring-ephemeral Corydalis ambigua (Papaveraceae): timing of seed-fall and effects of ants and ground beetles



Corydalis ambigua is one of major spring-ephemerals exhibiting ant-dispersal in Hokkaido, northern Japan Seed dispersal in this herb species was observed in a field To attract ants, C ambigua has small spherical seeds with large elaiosomes containing lipids In the quadrat census, 284 (11%) of 2560 seeds were moved away from their mother plants and 131 (46%) of them were recovered into ant nests The mean dispersal distance was 48 3 ± SD 34 4 cm Also the spatial distribution of C ambigua seedlings suggested that the seeds were frequently dispersed by ants The direct observations revealed that the main dispersal ant species were Myrmica kotokui and Lastus japomcus Additionally some ground beetles including Plerostichus spp often devoured elaiosomes and seeds Corydalis ambigua seeds were dropped for about two weeks in late May The collecting by pitfall trap revealed that, in this short period, the frequency of ant foraging on the ground was high and ground beetles were a little yet Moreover, in the seed removal experiments, seeds were more frequently removed in this seed-fall period while seed predation by ground beetles was intensive after the period