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Camponotus punctulatus ant's demography: a temporal study across land-use types and spatial scales

Abstract : Agricultural activities promote the explosion of diverse pest populations. In Argentina, the ant Camponotus punctulatus invades agricultural fields after production ceases. The temporal demography and spatial distribution of colonies of C. punctulatus were studied over a five year period using replicated plots of different land use types representing a gradient of increasing agricultural disturbance. We experimentally tested the hypothesis that the increase in C. punctulatus colony density was related to increasing levels of agricultural disturbance. Abandoned rice fields represented the situation with greatest disturbance. Sown pastures were intermediate. Natural grasslands represented no agricultural disturbance. The predictions were (1) the greater the soil disturbance produced by agriculture, the greater the susceptibility for invasion by C. punctulatus, (2) rice fields offers greater opportunities for establishment of colonizing species than sown pastures, and (3) disturbed land use areas that were more recently colonized as well as land use areas with greater soil disturbance will exhibit patterns of colony aggregation at a small scale but with time the patterns will become uniform. Initially, colonies in the abandoned rice fields had a higher annual mortality and larger turnover than in sown pastures. Over five years, abandoned rice fields sustained higher densities of colonies than sown pastures. The colonies were the largest and had the longest lifespans in abandoned ricefields. Natural grasslands had the lowest colony density, survivorship, and size but had variable levels of colonization. More than one type of spatial distribution was found in field replicates. At small spatial scales across disturbed land use types, replicates exhibited regular distributions. At greater spatial scales, spatial distributions were mostly random in sown pastures, there were many cases of aggregation in rice fields, although some cases of uniform distributions were also found in all disturbed land uses. These results highlight significant intraspecific variation in ant demography across types of land use, space, and time, and show a clear predisposition of C. punctulatus to invade and successfully establish in the most disturbed land use types. Hypotheses that can account for the changes in demography across land use types are discussed
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P.J. Folgarait, N. Gorosito, R. Pizzio, Jean-Pierre Rossi, J. Fernandez. Camponotus punctulatus ant's demography: a temporal study across land-use types and spatial scales. Insectes Sociaux, Springer Verlag, 2007, 54 (1), pp.42-52. ⟨10.1007/s00040-007-0906-0⟩. ⟨hal-02667826⟩



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