Satiation in Collection of Myrmecochorous Diaspores by Colonies of Aphaenogaster rudis (Formicidae Myrmicinae) in Central Ohio, USA

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When ants are dispersing seeds (myrmecochory), cessation of foraging can be as important as recruitment in determining dispersal success. We studied food collection by Aphaenogaster rudis from experimental depots by monitoring temporal variation and preference in food removal (diaspores of Asarum canadense and Sanguinaria canadensis and larvae of Tenebrio obscurus). Removal of diaspores, but not insect larvae, declined to nearly zero over the scale of hours. Satiation extended over the scale of days for diaspores. Extensive collection of larvae inhibited future collection of diaspores, but the converse was not observed. Increasing distance from the nest reduced removal of diaspores, but not of food bodies isolated from diaspores. Removal rates for diaspores were uncorrelated with the number of workers or brood in a colony.

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