Seed removal by ants in tropical savannas: optimizing fieldwork

Marina Acero Angotti, Ananza Rabello, Graziele Santiago, Carla Ribas

Abstract


There has been an increase in the number of studies using seed removal by ants to evaluate ecosystem functioning; however, these studies encompassed varying time periods and used different types of seeds. Therefore, our aim was to evaluate differences in the proportion of seeds removed by ants in impacted and non-impacted sites in Brazilian savanna. Furthermore, we evaluated seed removal (1) during the morning and after a 24h period of seed exposure and (2) using natural and artificial seeds (manipulated resource to resemble natural seeds). The proportion of seeds removed was higher after the 24h exposure period (artificial seeds) regardless of site status, and more artificial seeds were removed than natural seeds. Our recommendations regarding sampling period depend on whether evaluating impacted or non-impacted sites. Although seed removal was greater after 24h in both impacted and non-impacted sites, we suggest that research evaluating the proportion of seeds removed in non-impacted sites should be performed only in the morning period to optimize the sampling time (removal of 60% during this period). When the aim is to compare non-impacted and impacted sites, we suggest evaluating after 24h of exposure, since the impacted sites experienced a higher proportion of seed removal during the afternoon and/or night time periods. Furthermore, we recommend the use of artificial seeds because they are easier to obtain and manipulate, and allow us to do comparisons between studies at different regions. We consider these findings an important first step towards standardizing future research on seed removal in Brazilian savannas by facilitating fieldwork and allowing comparisons to be made among different studies.


Keywords


Formicidae; sampling standardization; natural seed; artificial seed; elaiosome

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v65i2.1938

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