Ant-nest soil and seedling growth in a neotropical ant-dispersed herb

Carol C. Horvitz, Douglas W. Schemske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


A major hypothesis concerning the benefits of myrmecochory, seed dispersal by ants, to plants is that ant nests are nutrient-enriched microsites that are beneficial to seedling growth. We experimentally test this hypothesis for a neotropical myrmecochore, Calathea ovandensis, asking two questions: 1) is soil of nests of a seed-dispersing ant chemically or structurally distinct from surrounding soils, and 2) do seedlings grow better in soil collected from ant nests than in randomly collected soil? We found that although ant-nest soil was significantly enriched in nitrate-nitrogen, magnesium, iron, manganese, cadmium and percent organic matter compared to randomly collected soil, seedling growth was not significantly improved by ant-nest soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)318-320
Number of pages3
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 1986
Externally publishedYes


  • Ants
  • Calathea, Pachycondyla
  • Myrmecochory
  • Soil chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


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