Data from: Resource use and food preferences in understorey ant communities along a complete elevational gradient in Papua New Guinea
Orivel, Jerome; Klimes, Petr; Novotny, Vojtech; Leponce, Maurice (2018), Data from: Resource use and food preferences in understorey ant communities along a complete elevational gradient in Papua New Guinea, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3tm62
Elevational gradients provide an interesting opportunity for studying the effect of climatic drivers over short distances on the various facets of biodiversity. It is globally assumed that the decrease in species richness with increasing elevation follows mainly the decrease in ecosystem productivity, but studies on functional diversity still remain limited. Here, we investigated how resource use and food preferences by both individual ant species and communities foraging in the understorey vary with elevation along a complete elevational gradient (200 to 3200 m a.s.l.). Five bait types reflecting some of the main ecosystem processes in which ants are involved were tested: mutualism (sucrose and melezitose), predation (live termites) and detritivory (crushed insects and chicken faeces). The observed monotonic decrease in both species richness and occurrences with elevation increase was accompanied by changes in some of the tested ecosystem processes. Such variations can be explained by resource availability and/or resource limitation: predation and bird faeces removal decreased with increasing elevation possibly reflecting a decline in species able to use these resources, while insect detritivory and nectarivory were most probably driven by resource limitation (or absence of limitation), as their relative use did not change along the gradient. As a consequence, resource attractiveness (i.e., food preferences at the species level) appears as an important factor in driving community structuring in ants together with the abiotic environmental conditions.
Papua New Guinea