The distribution of ant nests (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) in coastal grey dunes of Flanders (Belgium) and their relationship to myrmecochorous plants

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Lehouck, V ; Bonte, D ; Dekoninck, W ; Maelfait, Jean-Pierre (2004)
  • Journal: (issn: 0777-6276)
  • Subject: /dk/atira/pure/discipline/B000/B005 | Polygala vulgaris [common milkwort] | Viola curtisii | Insects | B005-zoology | Belgium, Belgian Coast | Belgium, Koksijde, Oostduinkerke | Luzula campestris | Science General | /dk/atira/pure/thematic/inbo_th_00034

During the summer of 2001, we conducted a study on the spatial distribution of ants in coastal grey dunes (Oostduinkerke, Western Flanders, Belgium). Nest locations of the most abundant ant species were analysed with multivariate techniques. <i>Tetramorium caespitum</i> frequented moss-dominated vegetation, whereas <i>Myrmica sabuleti, M. scabrinodis, Lasius flavus</i> and <i>L. meridionalis</i> preferred grassy vegetations. <i>Formica cunicularia</i> and <i>L. psammophilus</i> occurred in all types of grey dune vegetation. According to recent literature, a positive spatial relationship can exist between the positioning of ant nests and the location of the myrmecochorous plants <i>Viola curtisii</i>, <i>Luzula campestris</i> and <i>Polygala vulgaris</i> in coastal dunes. Neither preliminary investigations, nor our study could confirm this significant positive relationship: the occurrence of myrmecochorous plants seems to be independent of the proximity of nests. It is possible that relationships are masked by a high turnover rate of the nest sites or by a restricted seedling establishment. We did not, however, observe ants transporting seeds of <i>Viola, Luzula</i> or <i>Polygala</i> in the field, possibly indicating the inefficiency of searching for those seeds in areas where population densities of these plants are rather low and other food sources are abundantly available.
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