This dataset is part of the study of mimetic host shifts in an endangered social parasite of ants, which is a joint study of the NERC's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology(UK), the University of Oxford(UK), University of Bialystok(Poland), Polish Academy of Sciences(Poland) and UFZ Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research(Germany). Combined with datasets collected from previous study, they compare the proportions of caterpillars of Maculinea rebeli being adopted by resident Myrmica ant species near Przemysl, Poland in autumn with proportions of successful survivors the following summer to establish host specificity of the socially parasitic butterfly species. The data comprise: the study year, the ant species, total number of ant nest, the number of caterpillar survivors found in the nest of each ant species, number of nests with caterpillar presence and total number of nests without caterpillar presence. They were obtained from one population for 4 years(Y2001, Y2003, Y2004, Y2005). Detailed research method can be found in Thomas et al. (2013) Mimetic host shifts in an endangered social parasite of ants. Proc. R. Soc. B vol. 280 no.1751. (doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.2336)
Publication date: 2013-01-22
Host specificity was measured by comparing the proportion of caterpillars that were adopted into different Myrmica nests with the proportion that survived to adulthood or pupation. Data were obtained from one population for 4 years near Przemy-l, s.e. Poland. The proportion of larvae adopted was estimated by baiting for ants beneath stratified random samples of gentians and by counting the number of eggs on each plant. Previous work had shown there was no difference in egg or larval survival on gentians growing in different ant territories, nor in the ratio of larvae retrieved from beneath plants by different ant species: the first Myrmica worker to encounter a larva retrieved it, and where two species overlapped there was no bias in retrieval towards one species. The distribution of the egg population on gentians is therefore an accurate surrogate for the distribution of the final instar population entering nests of each Myrmica species. Adult estimates of M. rebeli were obtained by recording eclosing individuals along stratified transects across sites, and identifying the nest after confirming that it contained an empty pupal case. Additional data were obtained by excavating all Myrmica nests near gentians along stratified transects that had supported known densities of eggs the previous year, and counting the pupae they contained. No mortality has been recorded in pupae in Myrmica cells before eclosion.