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Quantification of Ant Manure Deposition in a Tropical Agroecosystem: Implications for Host Plant Nitrogen Acquisition

Pinkalski, Christian, Damgaard, Christian, Jensen, Karl-Martin V., Peng, Renkang K. and Offenberg, Joachim (2015). Quantification of Ant Manure Deposition in a Tropical Agroecosystem: Implications for Host Plant Nitrogen Acquisition. Ecosystems,18(8):1373-1382.

Document type: Journal Article
Citation counts: Altmetric Score Altmetric Score is 3
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IRMA ID 81144320xPUB95
Title Quantification of Ant Manure Deposition in a Tropical Agroecosystem: Implications for Host Plant Nitrogen Acquisition
Author Pinkalski, Christian
Damgaard, Christian
Jensen, Karl-Martin V.
Peng, Renkang K.
Offenberg, Joachim
Journal Name Ecosystems
Publication Date 2015
Volume Number 18
Issue Number 8
ISSN 1432-9840   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-84947490720
Start Page 1373
End Page 1382
Total Pages 10
Place of Publication United States
Publisher Springer New York LLC
Field of Research 0602 - Ecology
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract Ants are functionally important organisms in most terrestrial ecosystems. Being ubiquitous and abundant, ant communities can affect the availability of resources to both primary and secondary consumers. As nitrogen is a limiting nutrient for plant growth in most terrestrial ecosystems, deposition of ant manure may augment the host plants’ acquisition of nitrogen. In this study, we quantified the manure deposited by colonies of the Asian weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina. We developed a method to estimate the amount of manure deposited in host trees (Mangifera indica) based on the trail activity of O. smaragdina. The rate of manure deposition was on average 62.3 kg dw ha−1 y−1, of which 0.2 kg ha−1 y−1 was deposited as urea-N, a nutrient that may be absorbed directly through the leaves, and 1.9 kg ha−1 y−1 was deposited as total nitrogen. Furthermore, ants given access to sucrose solution increased their rate of manure deposition significantly, suggesting that nectaries and/or trophobionts may play a major role in the production of ant manure. This study reveals that O. smaragdina can supply a significant amount of nitrogen to their host plants. In light of their remarkable abundance, the manure deposition by ants may have a hitherto unappreciated impact on the allocation of nutrients within their ecosystem.
Keywords ant–plant interactions
arthropods
food web
nitrogen cycling
nutritional ecolog
Oecophylla smaragdinat
trophobionts
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10021-015-9906-5   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
 
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