Ants, by being ever-present and by their huge number, have established a wide array of relationships with many other organisms. The sign of those interactions (positive, neuter o negative) depends on the precise agents and on local and temporal conditions. We intend to study that interaction in two systems: a) an exotic, invasive ant (Lasius neglectus) that tends aphids in evergreen oaks (Quercus ilex) and poplars (Populus sp.); b) several native ants tending aphids in tangerine trees (Citrus clementina) under ecological management culture. The project will: a) get data on the basic biology of the invasive ant, and b) will make an attempt to integrate studies on a natural system in which an exotic organism (L. neglectus) is present and studies of an agricultural system in which native ants intervene. Specifically, the aims of the project are: 1) to test an expected detrimental effect of L. neglectus on some variables of the evergreen oak (number and quality of acorns; leaf nutrient content and leaf herbivory) and a beneficial effect on aphids (number and development of colonies; predators and parasitoids); 2) the likely positive result of native ant attendance to the aphids, through interference with natural predators and parasitoids and, accordingly, an eventual harmful effect in tangerine production.
|Effective start/end date||13/12/04 → 13/12/07|