Enigmatic Biodiversity Correlations: Ant Diversity Responds to Diverse Resources

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Science  09 Apr 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5668, pp. 284-286
DOI: 10.1126/science.1094981

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A pattern noted in ecology is that diversity at one level begets diversity at other levels. In the case of consumers competing for similar resources, the diversity of those resources is thought to provide some degree of niche diversification in which a diverse set of consumer species can coexist. If, however, the diverse resources are not sufficiently distinct from one another, from the standpoint of the consumer species, such niche diversification will not exist. We experimentally show that a diverse array of twigs attracted 80% more species of twig-nesting ants than a monospecific collection of twigs. The specific tree species from which the twigs were derived did not explain the pattern. It appears that diversity per se at one level (twigs) creates conditions that promote diversity at another level (nesting ants).

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