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Old 09-11-2010, 02:46 PM   #11
1st Place Winner Winner Butterfly/Moth Contest & Official Ant Man
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: New Jersey

YouTube - Myrmecochory - Seed Dispersal by Ants

Sorry it's taken me so long, I wanted to experiment with different types of ants and see which did the best job of bringing the seeds back to the nest.

Of the ants I tried with Trillium seeds only 2 genera really did the job. They were:
Aphaenogaster, a sleek and shiny looking ant of what I'd call average size at around 5mm. These are common in woodland settings and forest edge. And
Formica, which tend to be larger, and faster moving. It's a very diverse genus you can find lawns and very wooded areas.

I suspect Myrmica would also do the job just as well as the similar looking Aphaenogaster. These ants pack a powerful sting too. I only find them in odd patches out in the woods. Lots of pines growing around in sandy soil with grasses about. Whatever that kind of environment is called. They tend to be more predatory than Aphaenogaster species.

Camponotus (those in the true Camponotus and Tanaemyrmex subgenera anyhow) are as big as Formica if not larger. (other subgenera in this group tend to be smaller) They could do the job as well but 1/3 of the species in this huge group nest in dead wood, with the other 2/3 either nesting in mixed nests or very deep in the soil. It would be more a matter of the seed being left in the right spot inside the colony for this to work.

Almost every other ant I tried was either to small or treated the seeds as a food source rather than a food item a single ant could carry home. Crematogaster in particular broke into one of the Trillium "berries" still on the plant and proceeded to eat the elaiosome off the seeds while still attached to the plant!
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Ant Chat (Podcast) Anting Seeds and Slave Makers-trilliumaphaenogaster.jpg   Ant Chat (Podcast) Anting Seeds and Slave Makers-trilliumseedformica.jpg  
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Old 09-18-2010, 11:12 PM   #12
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I could watch this one!!! You're a natural and.... I love your voice. Impressive MasterAnts... totally impressive!
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