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Yellow jackets may be an underestimated component of an ant-seed mutualism

Southeastern Naturalist

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Abstract

Yellow jackets (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) are attracted to the typically ant-dispersed seeds of trilliums and will take seeds from ants in the genus Aphaenogaster. To determine if yellow jacket, Vespula maculifrons (Buysson), presence interferes with seed foraging by ants, we presented seeds of Trillium discolor Wray to three species (A. texana carolinensis Wheeler, Formica schaufussi Mayr, and Solenopsis invicta Buren) of seed-carrying ants in areas where vespids were present or excluded. We found that interspecific aggression between yellow jackets and ants is species specific. Vespid presence decreased average foraging time and increased foraging efficiency of two of the three ant species studied, a situation that might reflect competition for a limited food source. We also found that yellow jackets removed more seeds than ants, suggestive that vespids are important, albeit underestimated, components of ant-seed mutualisms.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Yellow jackets may be an underestimated component of an ant-seed mutualism
Series title:
Southeastern Naturalist
Volume
2
Issue:
4
Year Published:
2003
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
609
Last page:
614
Number of Pages:
6