Contrasting predation services of predator and omnivore diversity mediated by invasive ants in a tropical agroecosystem

Jacquot, M; Tixier, P; Flores, O; Muru, D; Massol, F; Derepas, B; Chiroleu, F; Deguine, JP

Basic and Applied Ecology, 18, 31-39. (Papers in refeered scientific journals)


Invasive natural enemies are known to either strengthen or weaken the suppression of herbivorous arthropods. However, the impact of invasive species on the predation service provided by natural enemy diversity remains largely unexplored. Here, we tease apart the roles of invasive ants as providers of a predation service and a potential disservice, i.e. reducing the diversity of natural enemies. In mango orchards on Reunion Island, we evaluated the predation service in 20 open fields by simultaneously monitoring the predation on bait eggs and arthropod communities in two strata: the ground surface and the mango tree canopy. Our results show that the predation on bait eggs was limited to the ground surface. This stratum is dominated by three invasive omnivorous ants: Pheidole megacephala and Solenopsis geminata strongly increased the predation rate of bait eggs, whereas Brachymyrmex cordemoyi was responsible for only a small decrease in predation rate. Predation rate was positively related to predator species richness, and was negatively related to omnivore species richness. The negative relationship between the predation rate and omnivore species richness is caused by the most dominant invasive ant, P. megacephala, which reduces omnivore richness and seems to strongly prey on eggs. This study demonstrates, for the first time, the distinct influence of the diversity of two trophic groups on the predation service and how these effects can be mediated by invasive ant species.

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