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Title: Foraging patterns of the wood ant Formica rufa Linnaeus (Hymenoptera: Forrnicidae) at Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire
Author: Fry, Jacqueline M.
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 1998
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This thesis describes a study on the foraging ecology of the wood ant Formica rufa Linnaeus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) at Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire over the period January 1994 to June 1996. Detailed observations were made on the foraging behaviour during this period and the food supply of two colonies was experimentally altered by food supplementation and food denial through grease-banding of trees within a 50 m by 50 m area centred on the nest. The foraging areas of F. rufa colonies were determined by observing trails to trees and showed seasonal variation. The size of the foraging areas, their tree composition, the mean distance travelled by foragers and the extent to which particular trees were repeatedly foraged were monitored. There was stability in foraging areas between years due to colony persistence. Food supplementation did not alter the foraging area of the nest. There was some evidence that the extra resources were channelled into producing more sexuals. Food denial caused the denied nest to expand its foraging area. The amount of honeydew collected by F. rufa was experimentally determined. The amount of prey taken was estimated from a survey of the literature. The proportion of net primary productivity moved by a F. rufa colony across its foraging area was estimated as 0.12 % to 0.47 %. The effects of the distribution of F. rufa on other ground living invertebrates was experimentally investigated. The presence of F. rufa was found to be significantly negatively correlated with the presence of predatory Coleoptera and significantly positively correlated with the presence of the myrmecophilous staphylinid beetle Zyras humeralis (Gravenhorst). The monitoring of the foraging areas and determination of the relationship between the presence of F. rufa and other ecological groupings allows this work to be used to inform the ETM framework, a proposal for spatially delineating ecosystems.
Supervisor: Cousins, Steven Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available