LESCANO Maria natalia
Essential but invisible: non-apparent but widespread ant nests favour soil nutrients and plant growth in semi-arid areas
PIRK, G.I.; ELIZALDE, L.; LESCANO M. N; WERENKRAUT, V.
WILEY-BLACKWELL PUBLISHING, INC
Lugar: Londres; Año: 2020
Abstract. 1. Ants provide multiple ecosystem services, including nutrient cycling.Although most studies on nests effects on soil fertility and plant performance includespecies with large nests, species with less apparent nests may have a relevant effect,especially if they are widespread, abundant, and/or inhabit nutrient-poor soils.2. We studied the effects of nests of three abundant and widespread ant species inthe Patagonian steppe (the seed harvesters Pheidole spininodis and Pogonomyrmexcarbonarius, and the generalist Dorymyrmex tener) on soil properties, plant growthof two native species, and seedling recruitment. Our main hypothesis was that, despitetheir non-apparent nests, these species have a positive effect on soils and enhance plantgrowth.3. Nest soils showed higher soil conductivity, %K and %Mg than non-nest soils.In a greenhouse experiment, individuals of the biennial forb Oenothera odorata grewbigger in nest soils of P. carbonarius and D. tener than in non-nest soils. Individualsof the perennial tussock grass Pappostipa speciosa grew taller and had more tillersin nest versus non-nest soils. Seedling abundance and richness were the highest in P.carbonarius nest soils and the general trends were similar to those observed in the plantgrowth experiment.4. Our results show that ant species with non-apparent nests in an arid area enhance soilproperties, favouring plant growth (nests of P. carbonarius and D. tener) and seedlingabundance (nests of P. carbonarius). Due to their high abundance and widespreaddistribution, these two species could have a relevant role in ecosystem recovery afterdisturbance.