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Data from: Can variation in seed removal patterns of Neotropical pioneer tree species be explained by local ant community composition?

Citation

Ruzi, Selina et al. (2020), Data from: Can variation in seed removal patterns of Neotropical pioneer tree species be explained by local ant community composition?, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.n2z34tmvj

Abstract

Many plants depend on animals for seed dispersal, and ants commonly fill this role. We examined if heterogeneity in ant community composition among sites, between above- and below-ground foraging guilds, or between seasons predicts observed variation in seed removal rates for 12 nonmyrmecochorous Neotropical pioneer tree species on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. We also investigated if ants associated with removing seeds differed in specific morphological characters from the larger ant community. We observed ant-seed interactions at caches to determine which ants removed seeds of 12 tree species. We also sampled ant community composition by placing 315 pitfall traps and 160 subterranean traps across the five sites where seed removal rates were quantified. Above-ground ant community composition varied by site but not season. Among-site variation in ant composition did not predict seed removal patterns at these same sites. Below-ground ant communities differed from above-ground ant communities but were not structured by either site or seed cache type. Finally, ants that removed seeds did not differ morphologically from the broader ant community. Overall, our results suggest ant communities vary over relatively small spatial scales but exhibit a high degree of functional redundancy in terms of seed removal services provided for Neotropical pioneer tree species.

Methods

The data was collected at five sites on Barro Colorado Island, in the Republic of Panama. Data on seed removal for 12 Neotropical pioneer tree species and the ants observed removing those seeds were collected once during the dry season and once during the wet season of 2013. These data were collected by observing seed caches consisting of 10 seeds placed within the lid of a petri dish on the forest floor over 47 hours. Data on seed removal for 6 Neotropical pioneer tree species and the associated ants were collected once in the wet season of 2013. These data were collected by placing seed caches of 10 seeds within the topsoil and pairing these with associated subterranean traps to catch ants. Data on the above-ground ant community was captured using pitfall traps placed during the wet season of 2013 and the dry season of 2014.

Usage Notes

To access the R project associated with this data deposition please see https://github.com/sruzi24/Ruzi_etal_seed_removal_and_ant_communities.

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: 120205

National Science Foundation, Award: 1069157

National Science Foundation, Award: 1701501

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Award: Dissertation Travel Grant