Critical thermal limits in Mediterranean ant species: Trade-off between mortality risk and foraging performance

X. Cerdá, J. Retana, S. Cros

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242 Citations (Scopus)


1. In Mediterranean ant communities, a close relationship has been found between activity rhythm in the period of maximum activity and position in the dominance hierarchy: subordinate species are active during the day, when conditions are more severe, while dominants are active during the afternoon and the night. 2. Results obtained in this study confirmed that the species foraging at higher temperatures were closer to their critical thermal limits than the species foraging at lower temperatures. 3. This enabled two extreme strategies of foraging in relation to temperature to be distinguished: (1) heat-intolerant ant species behaved as risk-averse species, foraging at temperatures very far from their critical thermal limits; and (2) heat-tolerant ant species behaved as risk-prone species, foraging very near their critical thermal limits and running a high heat mortality risk. 4. Heat-tolerant species benefited from this strategy by having better foraging performance at high temperatures. 5. This wide range of thermal niches may be one reason why Mediterranean ant faunas are so diverse in the face of limited diversity in vegetation and habitat structure: the daily range of temperature may be sufficiently great to meet the requirement both of heat-adapted and cold-adapted species as well as a spectrum of intermediate forms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-55
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 1998


  • Foraging activity
  • Mediterranean communities
  • Risk temperature
  • Thermal tolerance


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