Army Ant Followers Project

 

In tropical forests, there are a set of birds that follow army ant swarms. These mixed-species foraging aggregations (MSFA) are composed of species that vary in their dependency on ant swarms and in their behavioral interactions. Army ants form large raids on the forest floor, eating everything in their path. As arthropods try to escape the raiding ants, birds are there to grab them and eat them. These groups play a vital role in biodiversity of forests, with at least 12% of neotropical species attending ant swarms. Nevertheless, we still know very little about how they are structured and how alterations in species present changes the costs and benefits of attending swarms. We study how groups of ant-followers are formed and maintained, how the loss of species alters community structure, the costs and benefits of attending swarms, and how the community varies along the PLUMAS gradient.

Funding sources:

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Collaborators

Dr. Patrick Kelley (University of Wyoming)

Dr. Henry Pollock (UIUC)

Dr. Jeferson Vizentin-Bugoni (Universidade Federal de Pelotas)

Laura Gomez Murillo (UW MS student)

Summer Holeman (UW undergrad)

Elizabeth Howard (UW undergrad)

Michael Castano (UW MS student)