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dc.contributor.authorGriffiths, Hannah M
dc.contributor.authorAshton, Louise A
dc.contributor.authorWalker, Alice E
dc.contributor.authorHasan, Fevziye
dc.contributor.authorEvans, Theodore A
dc.contributor.authorEggleton, Paul
dc.contributor.authorParr, Catherine L
dc.date.accessioned2019-08-20T03:40:11Z
dc.date.available2019-08-20T03:40:11Z
dc.date.issued2018
dc.identifier.issn0021-8790
dc.identifier.doi10.1111/1365-2656.12728
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10072/383149
dc.description.abstract1. Ants are diverse and abundant, especially in tropical ecosystems. They are often cited as the agents of key ecological processes, but their precise contributions compared with other organisms have rarely been quantified. Through the removal of food resources from the forest floor and subsequent transport to nests, ants play an important role in the redistribution of nutrients in rainforests. This is an essential ecosystem process and a key energetic link between higher trophic levels, decomposers and primary producers. 2. We used the removal of carbohydrate, protein and seed baits as a proxy to quantify the contribution that ants, other invertebrates and vertebrates make to the redistribution of nutrients around the forest floor, and determined to what extent there is functional redundancy across ants, other invertebrate and vertebrate groups. 3. Using a large‐scale, field‐based manipulation experiment, we suppressed ants from c. 1 ha plots in a lowland tropical rainforest in Sabah, Malaysia. Using a combination of treatment and control plots, and cages to exclude vertebrates, we made food resources available to: (i) the whole foraging community, (ii) only invertebrates and (iii) only non‐ant invertebrates. This allowed us to partition bait removal into that taken by vertebrates, non‐ant invertebrates and ants. Additionally, we examined how the non‐ant invertebrate community responded to ant exclusion. 4. When the whole foraging community had access to food resources, we found that ants were responsible for 52% of total bait removal whilst vertebrates and non‐ant invertebrates removed the remaining 48%. Where vertebrates were excluded, ants carried out 61% of invertebrate‐mediated bait removal, with all other invertebrates removing the remaining 39%. Vertebrates were responsible for just 24% of bait removal and invertebrates (including ants) collectively removed the remaining 76%. There was no compensation in bait removal rate when ants and vertebrates were excluded, indicating low functional redundancy between these groups. 5. This study is the first to quantify the contribution of ants to the removal of food resources from rainforest floors and thus nutrient redistribution. We demonstrate that ants are functionally unique in this role because no other organisms compensated to maintain bait removal rate in their absence. As such, we strengthen a growing body of evidence establishing ants as ecosystem engineers, and provide new insights into the role of ants in maintaining key ecosystem processes. In this way, we further our basic understanding of the functioning of tropical rainforest ecosystems.
dc.description.peerreviewedYes
dc.languageEnglish
dc.language.isoeng
dc.publisherWiley
dc.relation.ispartofpagefrom293
dc.relation.ispartofpageto300
dc.relation.ispartofissue1
dc.relation.ispartofjournalJournal of Animal Ecology
dc.relation.ispartofvolume87
dc.subject.fieldofresearchEnvironmental Sciences
dc.subject.fieldofresearchBiological Sciences
dc.subject.fieldofresearchAgricultural and Veterinary Sciences
dc.subject.fieldofresearchcode05
dc.subject.fieldofresearchcode06
dc.subject.fieldofresearchcode07
dc.titleAnts are the major agents of resource removal from tropical rainforests
dc.typeJournal article
dc.type.descriptionC1 - Articles
dc.type.codeC - Journal Articles
dcterms.licensehttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
dc.description.versionVersion of Record (VoR)
gro.rights.copyright© 2017 The Authors. Journal of Animal Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
gro.hasfulltextFull Text
gro.griffith.authorAshton, Louise A.


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