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Document Type

Peer-Review Article

Abstract

Acanthomyops claviger (Roger) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) forms conspicuous mounds within clumps of big bluestem, Andropogon gerardii, and prairie dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepsis, within a re-created tallgrass prairie in northeastern Illinois. This study explored the ecology of the nesting ant in the recreated prairie regarding the persistence of colonies, soil characteristics, the growth of grass clumps, and the species richness of the surrounding flora. Persistence of nests over one year was positively correlated to the diameters of mounds created by the colonies. Differences in soil moisture at 10 cm depth were significant over a growing season between grass clumps having nests of A. claviger and those not. Soil temperature at 10 cm depth over a growing season, organic fraction of the soil, and above-ground oven-dried biomass of grasses did not significantly vary based on nest presence. Floral richness was significantly higher in the vicinity of A. claviger nests than where nests were absent. Benefits of the ant-grass relationship are unknown, although a commensalistic relationship is at least suggested by the location of nests in grass clumps. The presence of A. claviger nests appears to have a positive effect on the richness of the surrounding flora, possibly through soil tunneling and seed distribution.

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Entomology Commons

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