“Raising the “anty” in decomposition ecology: Effect of vertebrate carrion on fire ant colony performance”
Insects are one of the most important facilitators of vertebrate carrion decomposition. Decaying flesh is usually associated with the conspicuous flies and beetles as they are prolific biomass consumers, some can be primary colonizers, and they play obvious roles in decomposition ecology and forensic entomology. In current literature, ants are not usually associated with vertebrate carrion. However, after conducting a literature review, it was revealed that over 150 ant species have been observed to visit vertebrate carrion. Though ants seem to be actively removing tissue and consuming exuded liquids, there is no definitive consensus on how ants are utilizing these resources. The function and significance of ants recruiting to vertebrate carrion is also poorly understood. We conducted controlled laboratory experiments to determine whether a dietary supplement of vertebrate carrion is beneficial to colony performance (i.e. survival, brood production, lipid stores). Our results suggest that dietary supplement of vertebrate carrion did not increase overall colony performance with higher survival rates, brood production and elevated lipid stores.