anthills and profuse growth of shrub Spirea media (Rosaceae)

robert liebermann robert.liebermann at
Sat Feb 8 00:39:18 EST 1997

Can someone give me some advice on this-
I'm working on my thesis-comparative phytogeography of islands in Lake
Baikal and Lake Superior.   On one of the islands in Lake Baikal
[Bolshoi Ushkanii] there is a very dense population of ants/anthills
[the medium sized black BITING ones, sorry I can't be more precise].  
The Island is forested with a boreal predominately Larix
czekanowskii-Pinus sylvestris  forest, on mesic carbonate-derived
podzols.  I frequently found that growth of vegetation was quite lush
near the anthills, especially of the shrub Spirea media (Rosceae).  
After some time I could expect to find [or avoid] ants from a distance
in the field by looking at the S. media shrubs.   My question: why are
the plants so lush?   Is it the increased aeration to the roots?   Some
sort of chemistry of the ants?   Soil fertilization by the wastes of
the ants?   Where can I learn more [literature]?   I know more about
plants than ants!

Robert J. Liebermann
Lake Baikal-Lake Superior Institute

RR#1, Site 6,  Box 5, Lake Superior
Wawa, Ontario, P0S 1K0, Canada

Department of Geography
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49008 5056 USA

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