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Data from: Tree seedling responses to leaf-cutting ants herbivory in Atlantic Forest restoration sites

Citation

Torezan, Jose Marcelo Domingues; Garcia, Jessica Magon; Bordignon, Alexandre de Mello; Gonzaga, Gessi de Sousa (2020), Data from: Tree seedling responses to leaf-cutting ants herbivory in Atlantic Forest restoration sites, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.bnzs7h478

Abstract

Leaf-cutting ants (LCA) are generalist herbivores capable of causing severe plant damage. Negative impacts of ant herbivory vary according to the density of nests and availability of palatable plants; however, it is not yet clear how these herbivores affect tropical forest restoration sites. To investigate how LCA preference affects plant species performance, we evaluated the herbivory of Atta sexdens rubropilosa on native tree species seedlings in Atlantic Forest restoration sites. We expected pioneer species to suffer higher herbivory by LCA when compared with non-pioneer species, and that species with higher damage will have poorer growth and higher mortality. The experiment was conducted in three restoration sites in northern Paraná state, southern Brazil, with 1500 seedlings of 5 pioneer and 5 non-pioneer species. Sites share similar age, stand size, tree species composition, and LCA nest density. The number of attacks, degree of leaf damage, number of leaves, plant height and survival were recorded. Specific leaf area, leaf polyphenols, flavonoids, tannins, and nitrogen content were analyzed for each species. Plant damage was similar between pioneer and non-pioneer plant species. This could be explained by trait variability among species in each group and by LCA generalist foraging. Preferred species suffered decreases in growth and survival. Less preferred species suffered fewer ant attacks and no change in performance. Results suggest that ant herbivory can influence plant species establishment and thus species composition in restoration sites by reducing performance and increasing mortality of some, but not all species, making LCA an important ecological filter.

Methods

The dataset presents the raw data transferred from field notebooks, except for variables were calculations were  added (IH and RGR). No further processing was done. Metadata were included in the spreadsheed, but do not hesitate in contact us.

Funding

Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Award: 09244/2015-3

Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Award: 441540/2016-3

Fundação Araucária

Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior