Ants disperse a majority of herbs in a mesic forest community in New York State

  • Handel S
  • Fisch S
  • Schatz G
  • 43


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In a central New York State beech-maple woodland, the dispersal characterisitcs of the herbaceaous species were recorded. Forty-five herbaceous species were present in the quadrates sampled; thirteen of these species were ant-dispersed (myrmecochores). Ant-dispersed plants contributed half of the 10,004 stems sampled, 60.2, 53.9, 55.4, and 50.7% in each of four sections of the forest. Ant-dispersed plants also comprised 48.2, 39.5, 38.3 and 37.3% of the aboveground herbaceous biomass in these areas. Foraging and nesting behavior of ants must be a major factor contributing to the structure of this herb community, along with asexual reproduction patterns and competitive processes. Local differences in herb community structure may be mediated by differences in ant abundance and behavior.

Author-supplied keywords

  • ants
  • coevolution
  • forest ecology
  • myrmecochores
  • seed dispersal
  • understory herbs

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  • SN Handel

  • SB Fisch

  • GE Schatz

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