R-code and data from: Effects of macro- and micro-nutrients on momentary and season-long feeding responses by select species of ants

Published: 12 March 2024| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/zbtvkyzwcj.1
Asim Renyard,
, Jaime Chalissery, Jonathan Petrov,


This data set described here is supplementary to an article titled: “Effects of macro- and micro-nutrients on momentary and season-long feeding responses by select species of ants”. Few studies have examined how various macro- and micro-nutrient types shape foraging responses in ants. We tested short term and season-long foraging responses of the ant species C. modoc and M. rubra to various micro- and macro-nutrients. We also tested if these findings were similar in other species, L. niger and F. aserva. The full methodology, results, and their interpretation can be found in the publication. Abstract from article: "Few studies have investigated the relative contribution of specific nutrients to momentary and season-long foraging responses by ants. Using western carpenter ants, Camponotus modoc, and European fire ants, Myrmica rubra, as model species, we: (1) tested preferential consumption of various macro- and micro-nutrients; (2) compared consumption of preferred macro-nutrients; (3) investigated seasonal shifts (late May to mid-September) in nutrient preferences; and (4) tested whether nutrient preferences of C. modoc and M. rubra pertain to black garden ants, Lasius niger, and thatching ants, Formica aserva. In laboratory and field experiments, we measured nutrient consumption by weighing Eppendorf tubes containing aqueous nutrient solutions before and after feeding by ants. Laboratory colonies of C. modoc favored nitrogenous urea and essential amino acids (EAAs), whereas M. rubra colonies favored sucrose. Field colonies of C. modoc and M. rubra preferentially consumed EAAs and sucrose, respectively, with no sustained shift in preferred macro-nutrient over the course of the foraging season. The presence of a less preferred macro-nutrient in a nutrient blend did not diminish the blend’s ‘appeal’ to foraging ants. Sucrose and EAAs singly and in combination were equally consumed by L. niger, whereas F. aserva preferred EAAs. Baits containing both sucrose and EAAs were consistently consumed by the ants studied in this project and should be considered for pest ant control." We have uploaded our data and scripts as an R studio project. Code used to wrangle data, analyze data and generate plots can be accessed in the project folder by opening the project file. The project contains: ---Data Data files of laboratory and field experiments to assess ant consumption on various nutrients. ---Outputs Plots and csv files generated from data analysis. ---Scripts Scripts of R code used to wrangle data, conduct analyses, and generate outputs.


Steps to reproduce

The full description of the methodology can be found in "Effects of micro- and macro-nutrients on short-term, and season-long, foraging responses by select species of ants". Here we describe them in brief, primarily in relation to how the data were collected and used: In either lab or field assays, we bioassayed the feeding response of ant colonies to various macro- and micro-nutrients. We presented colonies with several choices of aqueous nutrient solutions simultaneously in eppendorf tube feeders and recorded the mass loss after several hours of feeding. We also recorded the mass loss due to evaporation in identical tubes not accessible to the ants. We weighed tubes before and after the experiment to obtain their mass loss. We subtracted the mass loss in evaporation controls from the mass loss in feeding tubes to determine the consumption of the ants. Each data sheet has columns (names may vary by data sheet) for replicate ("rep"), name of ant colony ("nickname", "MN"), nest identification number ("nest", "col"), position of the tube in the bioassay (randomized to account for tube position; "pos"), the experimental treatments ("trmt", "trt"), initial weight for feeding tubes ("weight.trmt.initial", "wt.i", "wi"), final weight for feeding tubes ("weight.trmt.final", "wt.f", "wf"), initial weight for evaporation controls ("weight.evap.initial", "wc.i", "wi.evap"), final weight for evaporation controls ("weight.evap.final", "wc.f", "wf.evap"). Data were analyzed in R and R studio. We calculated the proportional feeding for each replicate and used GLMMs to analyze our data.