Environmental Entomology (2016) 45, 1199-1204

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D.M. Minkey and H. Spafford (2016)
Removal and burial of weed seeds by ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from the soil surface of a cropped area in western Australia
Environmental Entomology 45 (5), 1199-1204
Abstract: Although granivorous ants are known to collect weed seeds from cropping areas in Australia, the fate of these seeds has not been adequately investigated. Seeds of annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum Gaud.) and wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum L.) were placed around the nests of five native ant species (Iridomyrmex greensladei Shattuck, Rhytidoponera metallica Smith, Melophorus turneri Forel, Monomorium rothsteini Forel, and Pheidole hartmeyeri Forel) and tracked continuously over a 24-h period. Removal rates and seed preference of the ant species were evaluated. Ant nests were then excavated to determine the placement of seeds that were taken into each nest. Seed preference, seed removal efficiencies, activity, and seed storage all varied between the ant species. Annual ryegrass seed was collected by three species of ants and was removed from the soil surface more efficiently than wild radish seed. Most ant species stored seed below ground at a depth that is inhibitory to emergence, thereby potentially removing that portion of seed from the seed bank, but some seed was placed at germinable depths. Pheidole hartmeyeri was identified as a likely biological control agent for annual ryegrass seeds and wild radish, while Me. turneri and Mo. rothsteini have potential as biocontrol agents for annual ryegrass, but further research is needed.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Helen Spafford

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
biocontrol - natural enemies
Research topic(s) for beneficials or antagonists:
general biology - morphology - evolution

Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.

Raphanus raphanistrum (weed) Australia (Western)
Lolium rigidum (weed) Australia (Western)