Submission Title

Do Leaf Characteristics Influence Foraging Habits in Leaf-cutter Ants (Atta cephalotes)?

Session Number

PS1

Location

Graves Gym

Abstract Number

PS1-n

Abstract

Human activity has fragmented habitat areas and has sparked the creation of new leaf-cutter ant colonies, which are a hindrance to the ongoing reforestation efforts in the rainforest areas in which they are present. We looked at the foraging preferences of leaf-cutter ants on the Bijagual Ecological Reserve in La Virgen, Costa Rica, measuring leaf thickness, toughness, water content, and saponin presence in hopes of informing future reforestation management decisions on ant-resistant tree species selection. We sampled nine defoliated and nine untouched trees, and used descriptive statistics, two-sample t-tests, and Chi-squared analysis to characterize differences between the two tree groups. Likely due to the small sample size, no significant trends were determined. However, our data suggested that the ants may prefer leaves which are thicker, tougher, and contain less water and saponin.

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Apr 23rd, 10:45 AM Apr 23rd, 12:15 PM

Do Leaf Characteristics Influence Foraging Habits in Leaf-cutter Ants (Atta cephalotes)?

Graves Gym

Human activity has fragmented habitat areas and has sparked the creation of new leaf-cutter ant colonies, which are a hindrance to the ongoing reforestation efforts in the rainforest areas in which they are present. We looked at the foraging preferences of leaf-cutter ants on the Bijagual Ecological Reserve in La Virgen, Costa Rica, measuring leaf thickness, toughness, water content, and saponin presence in hopes of informing future reforestation management decisions on ant-resistant tree species selection. We sampled nine defoliated and nine untouched trees, and used descriptive statistics, two-sample t-tests, and Chi-squared analysis to characterize differences between the two tree groups. Likely due to the small sample size, no significant trends were determined. However, our data suggested that the ants may prefer leaves which are thicker, tougher, and contain less water and saponin.