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Data from: Experiments with artificial nests provide evidence for ant community stratification and nest site limitation in a tropical forest

Citation

Mottl, Ondřej et al. (2019), Data from: Experiments with artificial nests provide evidence for ant community stratification and nest site limitation in a tropical forest, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.0p32m6c

Abstract

Ants are dominant in tropical forests and many species nest in hollow cavities. The manner in which species are vertically stratified in these complex habitats is not known, with lack of nest sites being proposed to limit ant populations. Here we assess ant community stratification and nest site limitation in a lowland rainforest in New Guinea using experimental addition of artificial bamboo nests of two cavity sizes (small: ~12 mm. large: ~32 mm diameter) placed at ground level, in the understorey, and in the canopy. We also conducted a pilot experiment to test the utility of nest translocation. Nests were checked for occupancy after 10 weeks and half of the occupied nests were then translocated between forest plots, while keeping same vertical position. Occupancy of small nests was much higher in the understorey and canopy than at ground level (~75% versus ~25%). Translocation was successful, as a majority of nests was inhabited by the same species before and after translocation and there was no impact of translocation to a different plot compared to the control, except for a reduction in colony size at ground level. Our experiment demonstrates a vertical stratification in community composition of ants nesting in hollow dead cavities and shows that these ants are more nest-site limited in the higher strata than at ground level. Use of small artificial cavities has great potential for future experimental studies, especially for those focused on arboreal ants, as occupancy is high and translocation does not negatively affect their colony size.

Usage Notes

Location

Papua New Guinea