Structure of ant-diaspore networks and their functional outcomes in a Brazilian Atlantic Forest


  • Bianca Ferreira da Silva Laviski Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro
  • Antonio José Mayhé-Nunes Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro
  • André Felippe Nunes-Freitas Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro



Ant-fruit interactions, secondary dispersal, seed cleaning, seed removal, mutualistic networks


Ants are able to interact with fruits and seeds that are not adapted for ant seed dispersal. In Brazil, several studies show interactions of ants with non-myrmecochorous diaspores; however, few of them have studied the structure of ant-fruit networks. The use of the network approach allows visualising multiple interactions between partners and how they are shaped by the community context. Our study aims to investigate ant-fruit networks as well as quantitative and qualitative dispersal components in a fragment of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. We investigated the structure of interaction networks, diaspore removal rates, diaspore destination and dispersal distance over two years of observation. We constructed three interaction networks: dry season, rainy season and total, with the latter comprising the two formers. The diaspore removal rate, dispersal distance and diaspore destination experiments were performed for the plant species Miconia calvescens, Miconia prasina, Psychotria leiocarpa and Inga edulis. We recorded a large number of interactions, with diaspore cleaning being more frequent than removal. Ant-diaspore networks were nested, non-modular and little specialized. M. calvescens, M. prasina and I. edulis showed higher diaspore removal rates. Diaspore removal distances were the same among M. calvescens, M. prasina and I. edulis. In M. calvescens and I. edulis, the main diaspore destination was the ant’s nest. Our study shows that diaspore cleaning is the most common behavior in ant-diaspore interactions and there are no differences in the organization of interaction networks over the seasons. These results have implications for the future structure of plant communities, considering that a small part of the diaspores is removed, and that most of them are cleaned, favouring germination at the deposition site.


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Author Biographies

Antonio José Mayhé-Nunes, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro

Departamento de Biologia Animal

André Felippe Nunes-Freitas, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro

Departamento de Ciências Ambientais


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How to Cite

Laviski, B. F. da S., Mayhé-Nunes, A. J., & Nunes-Freitas, A. F. (2021). Structure of ant-diaspore networks and their functional outcomes in a Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Sociobiology, 68(3).



Research Article - Ants

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