Aphaenogaster araneoides forages in lowland tropical wet forests of Central America. The home range areas of this myrmicine ant are predicted by colony size, while leaf litter quantity predicts colony growth. Why is shallow leaf litter a problem for this ant, and why do home ranges not change in response to resource abundance? Shallow litter can be a challenging foraging environment because of reduced humidity as well as reduced prey abundance. To separate the effects of litter abundance and food abundance, we manipulated the leaf litter and food abundance, with litter removal, food addition, and litter removal plus food addition. We monitored changes in home ranges, foraging frequency, and foraging duration. We found that manipulations of food change foraging frequency and home range location, but that the microenvironment of leaf litter is not as important to this litter-foraging ant. We also observed frequent nest movements, which may be a mechanism of A. araneoides to escape patches with low food abundance.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Formicidae Aphaenogaster araneoides
Keywords: leaf litter, competition
The ESA 2001 Annual Meeting - 2001: An Entomological Odyssey of ESA