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Species traits and environmental characteristics together regulate ant ‐ associated biodiversity

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Host‐associated organisms (e.g., parasites, commensals, and mutualists) may rely on their hosts for only a portion of their life cycle. The life‐history traits and physiology of hosts are well‐known determinants of the biodiversity of their associated organisms. The environmental context may strongly influence this interaction, but the relative roles of host traits and the environment are poorly known for host‐associated communities. We studied the roles of host traits and environmental characteristics affecting ant‐associated mites in semi‐natural constructed grasslands in agricultural landscapes of the Midwest USA. Mites are frequently found in ant nests and also riding on ants in a commensal dispersal relationship known as phoresy. During nonphoretic stages of their development, ant‐associated mites rely on soil or nest resources, which may vary depending on host traits and the environmental context of the colony. We hypothesized that mite diversity is determined by availability of suitable host ant species, soil detrital resources and texture, and habitat disturbance. Results showed that that large‐bodied and widely distributed ant species within grasslands support the most diverse mite assemblages. Mite richness and abundance were predicted by overall ant richness and grassland area, but host traits and environmental predictors varied among ant hosts: mites associated with Aphaenogaster rudis depended on litter depth, while Myrmica americana associates were predicted by host frequency and grassland age. Multivariate ordinations of mite community composition constructed with host ant species as predictors demonstrated host specialization at both the ant species and genus levels, while ordinations with environmental variables showed that ant richness, soil texture, and grassland age also contributed to mite community structure. Our results demonstrate that large‐bodied, locally abundant, and cosmopolitan ant species are especially important regulators of phoretic mite diversity and that their role as hosts is also dependent on the context of the interaction, especially soil resources, texture, site age, and area.

No MeSH data available.


Multidimensional scaling ordination of mite community composition. Host identity was a significant predictor of mite community (P = 0.001, Variance expl. = 31.8%). Mite communities separate by host species and cluster by host genus (e.g., Myrmica americana and Myrmica latifrons, Lasius neoniger, and Lasius alienus).
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ece32276-fig-0003: Multidimensional scaling ordination of mite community composition. Host identity was a significant predictor of mite community (P = 0.001, Variance expl. = 31.8%). Mite communities separate by host species and cluster by host genus (e.g., Myrmica americana and Myrmica latifrons, Lasius neoniger, and Lasius alienus).

Mentions: There was a significant positive relationship between the ant and mite community dissimilarity (P = 0.001, Mantel r = 0.51), suggesting that ant hosts and associated mites have similar patterns of turnover in species composition among sites. Host ant species explained a significant amount of the variance in mite species dissimilarity, as shown by MDS ordinations of mite communities for seven host species (P = 0.001, Var. expl. = 31.8%). Host specificity by mites at both species and genus levels was indicated by clustering in multivariate space (Fig. 3).


Species traits and environmental characteristics together regulate ant ‐ associated biodiversity
Multidimensional scaling ordination of mite community composition. Host identity was a significant predictor of mite community (P = 0.001, Variance expl. = 31.8%). Mite communities separate by host species and cluster by host genus (e.g., Myrmica americana and Myrmica latifrons, Lasius neoniger, and Lasius alienus).
© Copyright Policy - creativeCommonsBy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5016658&req=5

ece32276-fig-0003: Multidimensional scaling ordination of mite community composition. Host identity was a significant predictor of mite community (P = 0.001, Variance expl. = 31.8%). Mite communities separate by host species and cluster by host genus (e.g., Myrmica americana and Myrmica latifrons, Lasius neoniger, and Lasius alienus).
Mentions: There was a significant positive relationship between the ant and mite community dissimilarity (P = 0.001, Mantel r = 0.51), suggesting that ant hosts and associated mites have similar patterns of turnover in species composition among sites. Host ant species explained a significant amount of the variance in mite species dissimilarity, as shown by MDS ordinations of mite communities for seven host species (P = 0.001, Var. expl. = 31.8%). Host specificity by mites at both species and genus levels was indicated by clustering in multivariate space (Fig. 3).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Host‐associated organisms (e.g., parasites, commensals, and mutualists) may rely on their hosts for only a portion of their life cycle. The life‐history traits and physiology of hosts are well‐known determinants of the biodiversity of their associated organisms. The environmental context may strongly influence this interaction, but the relative roles of host traits and the environment are poorly known for host‐associated communities. We studied the roles of host traits and environmental characteristics affecting ant‐associated mites in semi‐natural constructed grasslands in agricultural landscapes of the Midwest USA. Mites are frequently found in ant nests and also riding on ants in a commensal dispersal relationship known as phoresy. During nonphoretic stages of their development, ant‐associated mites rely on soil or nest resources, which may vary depending on host traits and the environmental context of the colony. We hypothesized that mite diversity is determined by availability of suitable host ant species, soil detrital resources and texture, and habitat disturbance. Results showed that that large‐bodied and widely distributed ant species within grasslands support the most diverse mite assemblages. Mite richness and abundance were predicted by overall ant richness and grassland area, but host traits and environmental predictors varied among ant hosts: mites associated with Aphaenogaster rudis depended on litter depth, while Myrmica americana associates were predicted by host frequency and grassland age. Multivariate ordinations of mite community composition constructed with host ant species as predictors demonstrated host specialization at both the ant species and genus levels, while ordinations with environmental variables showed that ant richness, soil texture, and grassland age also contributed to mite community structure. Our results demonstrate that large‐bodied, locally abundant, and cosmopolitan ant species are especially important regulators of phoretic mite diversity and that their role as hosts is also dependent on the context of the interaction, especially soil resources, texture, site age, and area.

No MeSH data available.