Seed augmentation has a limited effect on species diversity of sand-dwelling ants

Udi Segev, Yaron Ziv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Enrichment experiments can provide useful information on the coexistence
mechanisms by which resources are shared among species within an assemblage. In this study, we examined the effect of artificial seed augmentation
on the diversity of seed-eating ant species at the Mash’abim Sands Nature Reserve in the Negev Desert in Israel. In a two-year experiment, the foraging activity of the different ant species was observed at two-month intervals,
during both night and day, in nine plots that were enriched daily with millet
and sunflower seeds. Each plot was divided into 20 stations. The nine plots
were randomly assigned to each of three seed-enrichment treatments: no seed
addition (control); addition of seeds that were available only for ants (Ant);
or addition of seeds that were available for both ants and rodents (Ant+Rod).
Eight seed-eating ant species were observed at the baits, three of which were
specialist seed-eaters, and the other five were generalist species. The results
reveal no significant effect of seed augmentation on ant species diversity.
However, there was a trend of increase in diversity in the Ant compared to
the control plots during the day. This increase contradicts the hypothesis that
seed-enrichment in deserts would lead to decreased ant species diversity due
to increased inter-specific or inter-taxon competition due to increased territoriality of either the dominant ant or rodent species, respectively. Our finding agrees with a growing number of studies in ants that revealed either an increase or no change in diversity following artificial resource augmentation.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)147-157
Number of pages10
JournalIsrael Journal of Entomology
StatePublished - 2009


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