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Ecology and Evolution

  • Alexander E. Filippov
  • Stanislav N. Gorb
Chapter
  • 51 Downloads
Part of the Biologically-Inspired Systems book series (BISY, volume 16)

Abstract

Myrmecochory or plant seed dispersal by ants is a widely spread phenomenon. Seeds of such plants bear specialised lipid-rich appendages, elaiosomes, for attracting ants. Ant workers collect the seeds and usually carry them to their nests. The ant species complex in the ecosystem is continuously changing in time and space, and the question arises about the effect of the spatial distribution of different ant species in the ecosystem on the number and distribution of myrmecochorous plants with different dispersal strategies. In this chapter, we model the population dynamics of two myrmecochorous plants having various dispersal strategies in an ecosystem with two ant species differing in their seed preferences, colony territory size, and location of their waste piles. We find a correlation between the number of nests of different ant species and the stability of the ecosystem. In particular, if one ant species would partially or totally disappear from the system, this could cause dramatic changes in the plant populations as well. Another example treated in this chapter deals with animal aggregations, which are especially common in insects. The aggregations may result from an uneven distribution of resources or because an attraction of individuals to each other may be more efficient in defending the group against predators in general and each member of the group in particular. Tree trunks and other cylindrical objects, where aggregated insects live, represent a specific environment for predator-prey interactions, which is fundamentally different from the planar one. For a better understanding of the predator-prey interaction in a cylindrical space, we applied a numerical model that allows testing the effect of interactions between predator and aggregated prey on the plane and on the cylinder, taking into consideration different abilities of predators to visually detect the prey in these two types of space. It is shown that the aggregation in conjunction with a specific environment may bring additional advantages for the prey. When one prey subgroup aggregates on the other side of the tree trunk and becomes invisible for the predator, it will survive with a higher probability. After all, the predator moving along one side of the tree will finally loose the major group of the prey completely.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander E. Filippov
    • 1
  • Stanislav N. Gorb
    • 2
  1. 1.Donetsk Institute for Physics and EngineeringDonetskUkraine
  2. 2.Zoological InstituteKiel UniversityKielGermany

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