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Data from: Asynchrony between ant seed dispersal activity and fruit dehiscence of myrmecochorous plants

Cite this dataset

Gordon, Susan C. C.; Meadley-Dunphy, Shannon A.; Prior, Kirsten M.; Frederickson, Megan E. (2019). Data from: Asynchrony between ant seed dispersal activity and fruit dehiscence of myrmecochorous plants [Dataset]. Dryad.


Phenological mismatch has received attention in plant-pollinator interactions, but less so in seed dispersal mutualisms. We investigated whether the seasonal availability of myrmecochorous seeds is well matched to the seasonal activity patterns of seed-dispersing ants. Methods We compared seasonal timing of seed removal by a keystone seed-dispersing ant, Aphaenogaster rudis, and fruit dehiscence of several species of plants whose seeds it disperses in a deciduous forest in southern Ontario, Canada. We examined the timing of elaiosome ‘robbing’ by the non-native slug, Arion subfuscus, and tested whether seed removal by ants declines in response to supplementation with additional elaiosome-bearing seeds (ant “satiation”). Key Results Seed removal from experimental depots peaked early in the season for all plant species, and that seed removal correlated with temperature. In contrast, elaiosome robbing by slugs increased late in the season and thus may disproportionately affect plants with late-dehiscing fruits. Ant colonies removed seeds at similar rates regardless of seed supplementation, indicating that satiation likely does not impact seasonal patterns of seed dispersal in this system. Fruits of the five myrmecochorous plant species in our study dehisced at discrete intervals throughout the season, with minimal overlap among species. Peak dehiscence did not overlap with peak seed removal for any plant species. Conclusions Fruit dehiscence of myrmecochorous plants and peak ant seed dispersal activity occur asynchronously. Whether future climate warming will shift ant and plant phenologies in ways that have consequences for seed dispersal remains an open question. In compliance with data protection regulations, please contact the publication office if you would like to have your personal information removed from the database.

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Ontario Canada