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Ants and subterranean Sternorrhyncha in a native grassland in east-central Alberta, Canada

  • J.S. Newton (a1), J. Glasier (a2), H.E.L. Maw (a3), H.C. Proctor (a1) and R.G. Foottit (a3)...


Little is known about the associations of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) with subterranean aphids and mealybugs (Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Aphididae and Pseudococcidae), particularly in Canadian grasslands. Knowledge of host plants for these sternorrhynchans is equally rare. We carried out a plant-based survey of ants and belowground aphids and mealybugs in a native fescue grassland in east-central Alberta, Canada. We found 23 species of ants, 12 of which (species of Lasius F., Myrmica Latreille, Tapinoma Förster, and Temnothorax Mayr) were in association with subterranean sternorrhynchans. Twelve species of aphids and mealybugs were collected; 3 are new records for Canada and 2 are possibly undescribed. Most ant species associated with sternorrhynchans were found with more than one species of sternorrhynchan, sometimes in the same nest. Almost all sternorrhynchans were found on graminoid hosts (Poaceae and Cyperaceae); there was little observed plant-specificity beyond this. There were no significant correlations between presence of subterranean sternorrhynchans and percent cover of different plant types, soil moisture content, slope, aspect, or visible entrances to ant nests.

Les associations des fourmis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) et des pucerons et cochenilles (Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Aphididae et Pseudococcidae) hypogées sont mal connues, particulièrement dans les prairies canadiennes. Il y a de même peu de renseignements sur les plantes hôtes de ces sternorhynches. Nous avons mené un inventaire des fourmis et des pucerons et cochenilles hypogées en fonction des plantes dans une prairie indigène à fétuque dans le centre-est de l'Alberta, Canada. Nous avons trouvé 23 espèces de fourmis, dont 12 (des espèces de Lasius F., Myrmica Latreille, Tapinoma Förster et Temnothorax Mayr) sont associées aux sternorhynches hypogées. Nous avons récolté 12 espèces de pucerons et cochenilles; 3 représentent des nouvelles mentions pour le Canada et 2 sont potentiellement non décrites. La plupart des espèces de fourmis associées aux sternorhynches le sont avec plus d'une espèce de sternorhynches, quelquefois dans le même nid. Presque tous les sternorhynches se retrouvent sur des hôtes graminoïdes (Poaceae et Cyperaceae); il n'y a, par ailleurs, aucune spécificité additionnelle des plantes. Il n'existe aucune corrélation significative entre la présence de sternorhynches hypogées et le pourcentage de couverture des différents types de plantes, le contenu hydrique des sols, la pente, l'aspect général, ni la présence d'orifices visibles de nids de fourmis.

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Ants and subterranean Sternorrhyncha in a native grassland in east-central Alberta, Canada

  • J.S. Newton (a1), J. Glasier (a2), H.E.L. Maw (a3), H.C. Proctor (a1) and R.G. Foottit (a3)...


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