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M Leponce (2015)

Studying ants in the treetops: perspectives.

In: In Forest Canopies: Frontiers of Ecosystem Services, October 27th – 29th, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Menglun, Mengla, Yunnan, China.

Studying ants in the treetops: perspectives Maurice Leponce Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, 29 rue Vautier, 1000 Brussels, Belgium Cranes, by offering direct access to the forest canopy, allow detailed studies of trophic interactions between ants, plants (floral and extra-floral nectaries) and other insects (especially honeydew producing Hemiptera). Crane availability and operation time (daytime) are however limiting the extent of these studies. We will review arboreal ant sampling methods that could be useful complements to canopy cranes. In particular we designed a rapid assessment protocol to study the spatial distribution (across trees and along tree trunks) and dominance hierarchy of ants in rainforests. This protocol is based on baits spread every 5m along a rope. One end of the rope is tied around the trunk and, with the help of a sling-shot, the other is slung over a branch in the canopy, forming a loop that enables the baits to be easily brought back down for inspection. On-site confrontations between dominant ants colonizing baits allow to map colony extension on neighbour trees. The baitline protocol has also potential to study food preferences, diel activity and to monitor dominant ant populations.

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