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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.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Best‐fitting models for (A) 2011 Astigmata (solid line, filled circles) and 2012 Heterostigmata (dashed line, open circles) richness included grassland area (ha), and (B) abundance of both taxa (2011) was best predicted by ant richness. Note: axes presented on log scale.
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ece32276-fig-0004: Best‐fitting models for (A) 2011 Astigmata (solid line, filled circles) and 2012 Heterostigmata (dashed line, open circles) richness included grassland area (ha), and (B) abundance of both taxa (2011) was best predicted by ant richness. Note: axes presented on log scale.

Mentions: Astigmata richness in 2011 was best predicted by area (P = 0.017, Dev. expl. = 22.0%, df = 1,18) (Fig. 4A) and there were multiple competing models including ant richness as well as age (Table 2). The 2012 best model was the model and the only competing model was litter depth, which explained very little and was not significant (P = 0.169, Dev. expl. = 5.2%, df = 1,18). Heterostigmata richness in 2011 was best predicted by ant richness (P = 0.028, Dev. expl. = 11.8%, df = 1,18), with multiple competing models, and in 2012, area was the best model (P = 0.02, Dev. expl. = 24.4%, df = 1,18) (Fig. 4A, Table 2) with area and ant richness as a competing model. Abundance for both Astigmata (P = 0.004, Dev. expl. = 31.0%, df = 1,18) and Heterostigmata (P = 0.002, Dev. expl. = 34.7%, df = 1,18) was best predicted by ant richness in 2011 (Fig. 4B) and competing models for both also included age (Table 2). In 2012, there were no models better than the for abundance of either mite taxon. As with overall mite richness and abundance, the two most important predictors for these two taxa were species richness of ant hosts and habitat area.


Species traits and environmental characteristics together regulate ant ‐ associated biodiversity
Best‐fitting models for (A) 2011 Astigmata (solid line, filled circles) and 2012 Heterostigmata (dashed line, open circles) richness included grassland area (ha), and (B) abundance of both taxa (2011) was best predicted by ant richness. Note: axes presented on log scale.
© Copyright Policy - creativeCommonsBy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

ece32276-fig-0004: Best‐fitting models for (A) 2011 Astigmata (solid line, filled circles) and 2012 Heterostigmata (dashed line, open circles) richness included grassland area (ha), and (B) abundance of both taxa (2011) was best predicted by ant richness. Note: axes presented on log scale.
Mentions: Astigmata richness in 2011 was best predicted by area (P = 0.017, Dev. expl. = 22.0%, df = 1,18) (Fig. 4A) and there were multiple competing models including ant richness as well as age (Table 2). The 2012 best model was the model and the only competing model was litter depth, which explained very little and was not significant (P = 0.169, Dev. expl. = 5.2%, df = 1,18). Heterostigmata richness in 2011 was best predicted by ant richness (P = 0.028, Dev. expl. = 11.8%, df = 1,18), with multiple competing models, and in 2012, area was the best model (P = 0.02, Dev. expl. = 24.4%, df = 1,18) (Fig. 4A, Table 2) with area and ant richness as a competing model. Abundance for both Astigmata (P = 0.004, Dev. expl. = 31.0%, df = 1,18) and Heterostigmata (P = 0.002, Dev. expl. = 34.7%, df = 1,18) was best predicted by ant richness in 2011 (Fig. 4B) and competing models for both also included age (Table 2). In 2012, there were no models better than the for abundance of either mite taxon. As with overall mite richness and abundance, the two most important predictors for these two taxa were species richness of ant hosts and habitat area.

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.


Related in: MedlinePlus