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Forage collection, substrate preparation and diet composition in fungus-growing ants

Författare:
Publiceringsår: 2010
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 259-269
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Ecological Entomology
Volym: 35
Nummer: 3
Dokumenttyp: Artikel
Förlag: John Wiley & Sons, Inc / The Royal Entomological Society

Sammanfattning

1. Variation and control of nutritional input is an important selective force in the evolution of mutualistic interactions and may significantly affect coevolutionary modifications in partner species.

2. The attine fungus-growing ants are a tribe of more than 230 described species (12 genera) that use a variety of different substrates to manure the symbiotic fungus they cultivate inside the nest. Common ‘wisdom’ is that the conspicuous leaf-cutting ants primarily use freshly cut plant material, whereas most of the other attine species use dry and partly degraded plant material such as leaf litter and caterpillar frass, but systematic comparative studies of actual resource acquisition across the attine ants have not been done.

3. Here we review 179 literature records of diet composition across the extant genera of fungus-growing ants. The records confirm the dependence of leaf-cutting ants on fresh vegetation but find that flowers, dry plant debris, seeds (husks), and insect frass are used by all genera, whereas other substrates such as nectar and insect carcasses are only used by some.

4. Diet composition was significantly correlated with ant substrate preparation behaviours before adding forage to the fungus garden, indicating that diet composition and farming practices have co-evolved. Neither diet nor preparation behaviours changed when a clade within the paleoattine genus Apterostigma shifted from rearing leucocoprinous fungi to cultivating pterulaceous fungi, but the evolutionary derived transition to yeast growing in the Cyphomyrmex rimosus group, which relies almost exclusively on nectar and insect frass, was associated with specific changes in diet composition.

5. The co-evolutionary transitions in diet composition across the genera of attine ants indicate that fungus-farming insect societies have the possibility to obtain more optimal fungal crops via artificial selection, analogous to documented practice in human subsistence farming.

Disputation

Nyckelord

  • Biology and Life Sciences
  • foraging
  • coevolution
  • Attini
  • Formicidae
  • fungus gardens
  • mutualism

Övriga

Published
Yes
  • ISSN: 0307-6946 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1365-2311 (Online)

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