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The regeneration niche of desert ants: effects of established colonies

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We marked the sites chosen by 338 foundress queens of two desert ant species (Veromessor pergandei and Myrmecocystus flaviceps) and monitored changes in the spacing of both species and the foraging activity at V. pergandei young nests. Although the long established colonies of both species tend intraspecifically toward regular dispersion, queens of both species were intraspecifically clumped. After 3 months, when the first workers emerged, the young colonies (reduced to a total of 42 colonies) were randomly spaced intraspecifically. We also followed the spatial patter of queens with respect to established colonies of both species. Queens founded nests away from the nests of all established colonies on the site. After three months, the young colonies were dispersed away from conspecifics only. During June through August 1986, we censused the number of foragers at the surviving V. pergandei nests. Young colonies that were more active also tended to be far from established conspecifics in July and August. There was no correlation of forating activity with distance to heterospecific established colonies in any month. These results indicate that established conspecifics may reduce the survivorship of young ant colonies.

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Correspondence to Randall T. Ryti.

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Ryti, R.T., Case, T.J. The regeneration niche of desert ants: effects of established colonies. Oecologia 75, 303–306 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00378614

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Key words

  • Veromessor
  • Regeneration niche
  • Space
  • Competition