Ant trophic functions in mountain rainforests revealed by biochemical analyses

In lowland tropical forests, ants play a variety of trophic functions in green food webs but their abundance and diversity decrease with elevation. How these functions are altered by elevation and how ants are replaced by other key arthropod taxa remain poorly studied due to the difficulty to determine ant diet by direct observations. A new approach by biochemical analyses (stable isotope ratios and fatty acids (FA)) can alleviate this impediment by offering a global view of the trophic position and of the food sources of the organisms studied. The aims of the project are: (1) to study the quantitative replacement of predatory

ant taxa by other taxa within the predatory trophic level (e.g. spiders, beetles) along the elevation gradient; (2) to verify whether ant functional guilds (defined by their diet, foraging behavior and nesting habits) are maintained along the elevation gradient; and (3) focusing on ant species with a wide altitudinal distribution, to test whether they occupy the same trophic position at each elevation, and whether their food is based on the same primary sources (e.g. leaves at lower elevations and lichens at higher ones).

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Other member(s)
Evolutionary Biology & Ecology, ULB
University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic
Georg-August University of Göttingen, Germany
Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil
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