Influences of Species Interactions with Aggressive Ants and Habitat Filtering on Nest Colonization and Community Composition of Arboreal Twig-Nesting Ants
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1093/ee/nvy015
Ant community assembly is driven by many factors including species interactions (e.g., competition, predation, parasitism), habitat filtering (e.g., vegetation differences, microclimate, food and nesting resources), and dispersal. Canopy ant communities, including dominant and twig-nesting ants, are structured by all these different factors, but we know less about the impacts of species interactions and habitat filters acting at the colonization or recruitment stage. We examined occupation of artificial twig nests placed in shade trees in coffee agroecosystems. We asked whether species interactions-aggression from the dominant canopy ant, Azteca sericeasur Longino (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)-or habitat filtering-species of tree where nests were placed or surrounding vegetation-influence colonization, species richness, and community composition of twig-nesting ants. We found 20 species of ants occupying artificial nests. Nest occupation was lower on trees with A. sericeasur, but did not differ depending on tree species or surrounding vegetation. Yet, there were species-specific differences in occupation depending on A. sericeasur presence and tree species. Ant species richness did not vary with A. sericeasur presence or tree species. Community composition varied with A. sericeasur presence and surrounding vegetation. Our results suggest that species interactions with dominant ants are important determinants of colonization and community composition of twig-nesting ants. Habitat filtering at the level of tree species did not have strong effects on twig-nesting ants, but changes in coffee management may contribute to differences in community composition with important implications for ant conservation in agricultural landscapes, as well as biological control of coffee pests.