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Abstract Detail

Symbioses: Plant, Animal, and Microbe Interactions

McNair, Daniel [1].

Red imported fire ant and henbit: a complex mutualism between two invasive species in their newly shared ranges.

Numerous plant species have lipid-rich elaiosomes attached to their seeds that offer a reward for the dispersal services of foraging ants. The disruption of these seed dispersal mutualisms (myrmecochory) between native plants and native ants has been the subject of many recent studies, especially in cases where populations of native ants were replaced by invading ants. However, little is known about myrmecochory as a possible determining factor in whether or not a plant is able to invade new territory uninhabited by its normal dispersal partners. The present study investigates the formation of a mutualism between two invasive species, henbit (Lamium amplexicaule, Lamiaceae) and the red imported fire ant (Solanopsis invicta, Formicidae), in their newly shared ranges. Seed preference trials demonstrated the fire ant’s ability to transport the seeds while a seed bank analysis revealed significantly more henbit seeds at fire ant mound edges versus away from mounds. At the same time, significantly higher densities of both henbit and another common non-myrmecochorous weed growing at mound edges may suggest that the altered soil properties of fire ant mounds (e.g. nutrient levels, aeration, and even temperature) may also contribute to henbit's success. 

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1 - University of Southern Mississippi, Biological Sciences, 118 College Drive, Box #5018, Hattiesburg, MS, 39406, USA

Lamium amplexicaule
Solanopsis invicta.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Session: 9
Location: Cottonwoods North/Boise Centre
Date: Monday, July 28th, 2014
Time: 11:15 AM
Number: 9005
Abstract ID:671
Candidate for Awards:None

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