Seed dispersal curve of a Mediterranean myrmecochore: Influence of ant size and the distance to nests

Crisanto Gómez, Xavier Espadaler

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40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Euphorbia characias is a Mediterranean spurge with a diplochorous dispersal system: after a ballistic dispersal that scatters the seeds, some ant species find and retrieve the seeds to their nest (myrmecochorous dispersal). The seed dispersal curve generated by ants in an abandoned field was described and partitioned according to ant size and to the distance to nest entrance from where seeds fell after ballistic dispersal. Both variables (ant size, distance to nest) affected dispersal distance. The seed dispersal curve showed a peak at short distance (median=1 m) and a tail extending to 9.4 m. The peak and the tail are explained differently. Short distances are usually generated by small ants (Pheidole pallidula and Tapinoma nigerrimum; 0.56±0.41 m [n=48]) both from the nearest or farther nest entrances. The tail of the curve is generated disproportionately by big ants (Aphaenogaster senilis and Messor barbarus; 2.09 ± 1.71 m [n=61]) from farther nests. Seeds have a much greater probability. (P=0.734) of being transported to nests which are not the nearest. This effect is largely due to transportation by big ants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-354
JournalEcological Research
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1998

Keywords

  • Ants
  • Euphorbia characias
  • Nest distribution

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