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Data from: Toxicity and utilization of chemical weapons: does toxicity and venom utilization contribute to the formation of species communities?

Citation

Westermann, Fabian L. et al. (2016), Data from: Toxicity and utilization of chemical weapons: does toxicity and venom utilization contribute to the formation of species communities?, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7g02r

Abstract

Toxicity and the utilization of venom are essential features in the ecology of many animal species and have been hypothesized to be important factors contributing to the assembly of communities through competitive interactions. Ants of the genus Monomorium utilize a variety of venom compositions, which have been reported to give them a competitive advantage. Here, we investigate two pairs of Monomorium species, which differ in the structural compositions of their venom and their co-occurrence patterns with the invasive Argentine ant. We looked at the effects of Monomorium venom toxicity, venom utilization, and aggressive physical interactions on Monomorium and Argentine ant survival rates during arena trials. The venom toxicity of the two species co-occurring with the invasive Argentine ants was found to be significantly higher than the toxicity of the two species which do not. There was no correlation between venom toxicity and Monomorium survival; however, three of the four Monomorium species displayed significant variability in their venom usage which was associated with the number of Argentine ant workers encountered during trials. Average Monomorium mortality varied significantly between species, and in Monomorium smithii and Monomorium antipodum, aggressive interactions with Argentine ants had a significant negative effect on their mortality. Our study demonstrates that different factors and strategies can contribute to the ability of a species to withstand the pressure of a dominant invader at high abundance, and venom chemistry appears to be only one of several strategies utilized.

Usage Notes

Location

New Zealand