The ant species Myrmica scabrinodis plays a markedly important ecological role through much of the humid grasslands of Eurasia. It hosts a species-rich community of pathogens and parasites, including Rickia wasmannii, an enigmatic member of entomoparasitic laboulbenialean fungi. This study provides a descriptive ecology of R. wasmannii by characterizing its prevalence and distribution across several hierarchical levels: colonies, individuals, and anatomic body parts. Infections were restricted to a single ant species, M. scabrinodis, and infected colonies occurred predominantly in wet habitats. Infections tended to be highly prevalent within infected colonies, often reaching 100% sample prevalence among workers. Individual infections exhibited an aggregated distribution typical to host-parasite systems. Workers from the aboveground part of nests (presumably older ones acting as foragers) were more infected than those from the belowground part. Fungal thalli could be found all over the body of the hosts, the head and the abdomen being the most infected parts of the body. The fungi's distribution among host body parts statistically differed between low versus high-intensity infections: the initial dominance of the head decreased with advancing infection. These findings may provide baseline data for future comparative or monitoring studies.
- Body part specificity
- Infection intensity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics