The Effect of nest Size and Species Identity on Plant Selection in Acromyrmex Leaf-Cutting Ants

Laura Elizabeth Jofre, Ana Irene Medina, Alejandro Gustavo Farji-Brener, Marta Matilde Moglia

Abstract


Leaf-cutting ants are key organisms because their role as primary consumers and potential agricultural pests. However, their foraging ecology was mostly studied as response of extrinsic factors such as climate and plant species traits. We evaluated the effects of intrinsic factors (i. e., nest size and species identity) on the foraging behavior in two species of Acromyrmex Mayr leaf-cutting ants. While large and small nests of A. lobicornis Emery showed similar feeding behavior, small nests of A. striatus Roger harvested a greater percent of the plant species available in their foraging area and showed a higher level of selectivity than larger nests. We discussed some probable reasons for this pattern. Our results highlight the relevance of intrinsic factors and species characteristics to explain changes in the foraging ecology of leaf-cutting ants as colony growth.


Keywords


Acromyrmex; ant nests; Chaco; foraging behavior

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v65i3.3263

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