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The disruption of an ant-aphid mutualism increases the effects of birds on pine herbivoresAuthor(s): Kailen A. Mooney
Source: Ecology. 87(7): 1805-1815.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
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DescriptionPredators affect herbivores directly and indirectly, by consumptive and nonconsumptive effects, and the combined influence of multiple predators is shaped by interactions among predators. I documented the individual and combined effects of birds (chickadees, nuthatches, warblers) and ants (Formica podzolica) on arthropods residing in pine (Pinus ponderosa) canopies in a factorial field experiment. Birds and ants removed herbivores but simultaneously benefited them by removing predatory arthropods. Birds and ants had net negative and positive effects, respectively, on the abundance of herbivore prey, supporting the notion that vertebrate predators have stronger negative effects on herbivores than do arthropod predators. Aphids (ant-tended and untended species) constituted three-quarters of herbivore biomass. The effect of birds on ant-tended aphids was twice that on untended aphid species or tended aphid species without ants. This was not due to there being more ant-tended aphids for birds to prey on; tended and untended aphid species were in similar abundances in the absence of birds. Instead, the effects of birds were strengthened by attributes of the mutualism that rendered tended aphids susceptible to predation. These dynamics led to nonadditive effects of birds and ants: birds only reduced tended aphid species and total herbivore abundances on trees with ants, while ants only increased tended aphid species and total herbivore abundances in the absence of birds. Consequently, top predators in this system only influenced total herbivore abundance when they disrupted an ant–aphid mutualism.
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CitationMooney, Kailen A. 2006. The disruption of an ant-aphid mutualism increases the effects of birds on pine herbivores. Ecology. 87(7): 1805-1815.
Keywordsant-aphid mutualism, canopy arthropod community, Cinara, emergent multiple-predator effect, Essigella, indirect effect, insect community ecology, intraguild predation, mutualism, Pinus ponderosa, Schizolachnus, trait-mediated indirect interaction
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