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Sympatry and allopatry in two desert ant sister species: how do Cataglyphis bicolor and C. savignyi coexist?


Dietrich, B; Wehner, R (2003). Sympatry and allopatry in two desert ant sister species: how do Cataglyphis bicolor and C. savignyi coexist? Oecologia, 136(1):63-72.

Abstract

Two extremely morphologically similar sister species of desert ants, Cataglyphis bicolor and C. savignyi, exhibit broadly overlapping distributional ranges within Tunisia. In order to analyse the microhabitats of C. bicolor and C. savignyi within the sympatric and allopatric areas of both ant species, the plant species located at 113 different nest sites of the two ant species were determined. In the sympatric area, the two species exhibit a clear-cut nest site segregation. This is not the case in the allopatric areas. Hence the two species differentiate their microhabitat only when they are sympatric. The plant species associated mainly with the nest sites of C. bicolor indicate that this species prefers a type of vegetation that needs irrigation. This is in contrast to the nest sites of C. savignyi, which are usually found around plants that characterize typical dry steppe areas. As the ants' foraging paths recorded in the sympatric area reveal, C. bicolor performs significantly shorter foraging runs with respect to both length and time, and covers a much smaller foraging range than C. savignyi does. This result reflects the fact that the microhabitat occupied by the colonies of C. bicolor is richer in food abundance. When direct interspecific interactions were investigated by placing a bait midway between two heterospecific nests, C. bicolor foragers dominated over those of C. savignyi. The same dominance of C. bicolor over C. savignyi occurred in laboratory experiments. These results suggest that the dominant species drives the subordinate one out of the high quality microhabitats, and that the subordinate species is forced to survive in the less lucrative habitats. In conclusion, coexistence seems to be maintained by the asymmetric competitive relationship between the two species and the fact that the subordinate species has the ability to endure in the less favourable microhabitat.

Two extremely morphologically similar sister species of desert ants, Cataglyphis bicolor and C. savignyi, exhibit broadly overlapping distributional ranges within Tunisia. In order to analyse the microhabitats of C. bicolor and C. savignyi within the sympatric and allopatric areas of both ant species, the plant species located at 113 different nest sites of the two ant species were determined. In the sympatric area, the two species exhibit a clear-cut nest site segregation. This is not the case in the allopatric areas. Hence the two species differentiate their microhabitat only when they are sympatric. The plant species associated mainly with the nest sites of C. bicolor indicate that this species prefers a type of vegetation that needs irrigation. This is in contrast to the nest sites of C. savignyi, which are usually found around plants that characterize typical dry steppe areas. As the ants' foraging paths recorded in the sympatric area reveal, C. bicolor performs significantly shorter foraging runs with respect to both length and time, and covers a much smaller foraging range than C. savignyi does. This result reflects the fact that the microhabitat occupied by the colonies of C. bicolor is richer in food abundance. When direct interspecific interactions were investigated by placing a bait midway between two heterospecific nests, C. bicolor foragers dominated over those of C. savignyi. The same dominance of C. bicolor over C. savignyi occurred in laboratory experiments. These results suggest that the dominant species drives the subordinate one out of the high quality microhabitats, and that the subordinate species is forced to survive in the less lucrative habitats. In conclusion, coexistence seems to be maintained by the asymmetric competitive relationship between the two species and the fact that the subordinate species has the ability to endure in the less favourable microhabitat.

Citations

13 citations in Web of Science®
14 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Zoology (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:1 June 2003
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:16
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:15
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0029-8549
Publisher DOI:10.1007/s00442-003-1245-0
PubMed ID:12720085

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