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Ant's trophic status Cataglyphis viatica (Fabricius, 1787) (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) in agricultural and forest environment in Algiers Sahel.


Cataglyphes ants are great huntress. Accordingly, they are useful to agriculture [1]. Species of Cataglyphis genusare living in barren places in Europe, Asia and Africa [2]. This same author specifies that Cataglyphis (Viaticus) viaticus is the only North-African form compared to Cataglyphis (Monocombus)viaticus Fab. [3]. Hava et al. [4] they focused on myrmecophiles living in anthills of Cataglyphisviatica. This species is widely spread in the Maghreb according to Aron et al. [5]. Works in species reproduction of Cataglyphis" genus were conducted in the world by several authors notably [6,7,8,9,5,10]. By the contrast, no study was delt with trophic diet of Cataglyphis viatica in the world. This fact is perhaps due to difficulties related to prey determination of this predator by simple observation on the ground. In Algeria, some authors have committed themselves in examination of prey's fragments which surround the Cataglyphis bicolor's nests entry, another species belonging to the same genus [11,12,13,14]. The scientific aim of the present study is to determine trophic status of Cataglyphis viatica and to highlight its agronomic and economic interest as useful species in the three different stations by vegetation and landforms who's the first one is agricultural and the other two are forestry.


Three stations for collection of C. viatica's nests are selected. The first one is in Crescia, (36[degrees] 41' N.; 2[degrees] 59' E.; Fig. 1), an apricot orchard of 3 hectares, protected by windbreaks of Cupressus sempervirens located in South of Algiers, at 166 m altitude, It is part of sub-humid bioclimatic stage with mild winter. There, an anthill of Cataglyphis viatica is flagged and sampled in May and June 2013. The second station in Sidi Slimane is at 1,92 km of the previous one, in Aleppo pine's reforestation Pinushalepensis Mill., 1768 (Fig. 1). In the woods, shrubs of Olea europaea L., 1753 of Pistacialentiscus L., 1753 and of Fraxinus sp. dominate herbaceous stratum that includes Cistus sp., Lavandula stoechas L., 1753 and Galactites tomentosa Moench, 1794. This station was damaged by fire in mid-August 2013. There also, the immediate periphery of Cataglyphis viatica's nest is sampled in September, then in October 2013. The third environment prospected is on the Algiers Sahel southside (Fig. 1). It is a part of sub-humid bioclimatic stage with hot winter. It is a scrubland of Hunting Preserve of Zeralda (36[degrees] 47' N.; 2[degrees] 50' E.), with superficy of 1.078 ha, reaching a max of 175 m altitude. The preserve has a shrub stratum of Myrtus communis L., 1753, of Ericaarborea L., 1753, of Genistalinifolia L., 1762 and of Arbutusunedo L., 1753. It is dominated by tree stratum of Quercussuber L., 1753, of Cupressusarizonica Greene, 1882, of Cupressussem pervirens L., 1753 and of Pinus (P.pinea L., P.pinaster Aiton, 1789, P. Halepensis). In this scrubland, 1 nest of Cataglyphisviatica is sampled twice in spring (May and June). In parallel, availabilities in species-preys in both environments (Crescia and Zeralda) are studied with help of trapping by Barber Pots technique. The results exploitation is made by use of ecological index of composition as, the total richness (S) and the centesimal frequency. Structural indices with the index diversity of Shannon-Weaver (H') in bits according to Ramade [15], it corresponds to the following equation H'= - 2 qi.log2.qi, where qi is equal to ni/N, ni: is the individuals number of the species i and N this of individuals of all included species. Fairness indice E corresponds to the diversity ratio observed H' to maximal diversity H'max [16], be E = H'/H'max, knowing that H'max= log 2.S and that S is the total number of present species. In the context of the present study, test of Chi2 ([chi square]) is used to highlight the existence of possible and significant difference between two serial data [17]. The comparison between available preys on the ground and species preys of C.viatica ant is made with help of selection index of Ivlev [18]. It is equal to li = (Na - Nb)/ (Na + Nb). Na is abundance of an item i in Cataglyphe's diet and Nb abundance of the same item i in the environment taken into account.


Overall analysis of Arthropod's fragments present on entry periphery of Cataglyphis viatica's anthills allowed identifying a total individuals-preys number of 8.870 at Crescia, 3.674 individuals at Sidi Slimane and 2403 individuals at Zeralda. It should be noticed that species-preys of cataglyphe spread between 6 classes whose of Insecta dominates highly with more than 96% for all stations (Fig. 2a, 2b, and 2c). The invertebrates other than insects consumed by Cataglyphisviatica in the three stations are in smaill proportions. They belong to Crustacea, Gastropoda, Arachnida and Myriapoda. It should be noted presence of chick-prey (Aves) at Zeralda. They are corresponding to a low trophic intake (Fig. 2a, 2b and 2c). It should be emphasized within Insecta, 13 orders with a net dominance of Hymenoptera, whose the most important number is noted at Zeralda with 94,3% (2.233 individuals) followed by Coleoptera with 3,6% (85 individuals). At Crescia, Hymenopera have a relative abundance of 92,3% (8.127 individuals) followed by Coleoptera with 5.0% (437 individuals). At Sidi Slimane, Hymenoptera represent 84.0% (2.972 individualds), followed by Coleoptera with 8,6% (303 individuals). Other orders are weakly represented (Fig. 3). At Zeralda, Fomicidae are significantly recorded, notably the harvesterant (Messor barbarus) with a percentage of 84.8%, followed by Pheidolepallidula with 2,5 %. At Crescia, it is noted a rate of 44,8% for Messor barbarus, and 17,5% for Pheidolepallidula. At Sidi Slimane, relative frequency of Messor barbarus is of 28,5% facing this of Aphaenogasterdepilis (14,6 %).It is noted that essential of its trophic diet is composed of ants. This phenomenon may be explained by the fact that Formicidae are social insects, living in large numbers. It is therefore not surprising that preys be highly represented in cataglyphe diet. About the total richness, values reach 218 and 219 species in stations of Crescia and Sidi Slimane, although in individual number, the first is more supplied than the second one. At Zeralda, value of S is low counting 87 species. Species-preys's diversity is medium to high. In fact, diversity's index of Shannon (H') is equate to 1,4 bits at Zeralda, 2,9 bits at Crescia and 4,3 bits at Sidi Slimane. Fairness tends to 1 for the burnt forest, which involves that number of species-preys consumed by Cataglyphis viatica tend to be in balance between them. Cataglyphe is therefore a generalist predator. By contrast, near of Crescia and at Zeralda, values of E tend to 0. Consequently, Cataglyphe's species-preys population tend to be unbalanced between them. In the both last stations, this ant behaves as a specialist predator. Use of Barber pots at Crescia allowed determining food availabilities present in Cataglyphisviatica's environment during May and June. Those one comprise 593 individuals spread between 66 species and 4 classes. At Zeralda, 789 individuals are captured; they belong to 51 species and to 5 classes. The most represented class in both stations is this of Insecta with 92,4% at Crescia and 89,1% at Zeralda (Fig 4).

In selection index terms of Ivlev (li), species-preys, the most selected at Crescia, are those making part of diet of Cataglyphis viatica, but scarcely represented in nature, correspond to 6 species. These are Formicidae with Messor barbarus (Ii = +0,52),Cataglyphisviatica (Ii = +0,27), Camponotus barbarus xanthomelas (Ii =+0,11) and Tapinomanigerrimum (Ii = +0,03), Apidae as Apis mellifera (Ii = +0,15) and a kind of spider undetermined, Salticidae sp undet. (Ii = + 0,08). Index values of Ivlev (li) of 24 species-preys the less selected go from - 0.97 to - 0.34. These are species not much sought by Cataglyphe, although abundant on the ground. Notably these are Asida sp(Ii = - 0,97), Monomoriumsalomonis (Ii = - 0,96) and Aphaenogasterdepilis (Ii = 0,34). At Zeralda, the most selected, species-preys are of 4 species, these are Messor barbarus (Ii = +0,4), Helicella sp (Ii = +0,32), Tapinomanigerrimum (Ii = +0,04) and Tetramoriumbiskrens (Ii = +0,03). On the contrary, ants Cataglyphis viatica (Ii = - 0,89)and Aphaenogaster depilis (Ii= - 0,73) seems to be less selected. Based from comparison between species-preys ingested par C. viatica and potential species-preys present on the ground near Crescia and Zeralda, that some species are not much consumed although present in large number on the ground and that other are better represented in Cataglyphe diet than on the ground. Test of Chi2 is equal to ([chi square] = 850,250; D.D.L.= 784; P< 0,0001), which involves that there is in fact a significant difference between individuals number of the 6 classes of preys found and sampling months, and this according to the three stations.


The present work underlines importance of insecta in trophic diet of Cataglyphis viatica with higher rates exceeding 96%. These results confirm author's works having worked in Algeria on Cataglyphis bicolor [12,13,14]. In fact, Moulai et al. [12] at Bejaia (36[degrees] 45' N.; 05[degrees] 05' E.) mention dominance of Insecta in a wasteland (93.8%) and for a scrubland (95,7%). Likewise near Guelma (36[degrees] 27'N.; 7[degrees] 25' E.) Ziada and Doumandji [13] noted in July 2005 in a fallow land, a relative abundance of 94,5% of insects. Ouarab et al. [14] in 4 regions, which are : Reghaia (36[degrees] 44' N.; 03[degrees] 21' E),Tigzirt(36[degrees] 53' N.; 04[degrees] 07' E.),Beni-Belaid (36[degrees] 53' N.; 06[degrees] 05' E.)and Mergueb(35[degrees] 40' N.; 03[degrees] 55' E.), remark the insectivorous of Cataglyphis bicolor 100% at Reghaia and at Mergueb, 99,1% at Tigzirt, and 96,8% at Beni-Belaid. Santschi [1], note that food of Cataglyphe is only in abandoned organic debris. In Morocco, Cagniant [19] notes that Cataglyphe's diet is mainly composed of insect's cadaver, other ants as Messor sp and Camponotus sp. winged and other species of Cataglyphis. According to the same author the live preys as caterpillars, larvae, adult Coleoptera and small Arachnida can be brought to the nest. In Tunisia at Sebkhet el Mnikhra near Guerdane, Cagniant [19] observed C. fortis bringing small beached fish and to butcher a dead seagull. Among insects, it should be noted that Hymenoptera dominate in the three stations with rates varying between 84,0% and 94,3%. This remark confirms this of Moulai et al. [12], who note among 7 orders of insects-preys consumed by Cataglyphis bicolor only Hymenoptera dominate with a relative abundance of 89,2% in a wasteland and of 76,5% in a scrubland. Furthermore, Ouarab et al. [14] also quote importance of Hymenoptera for all regions studied with 92,7% at Reghaia, 69,9% at Tigzirt, 62,5% at Beni-Belaid and 85,8% at Mergueb. In the present study, Formicidae intervene highly in food of Cataglyphis viatica and particularly the harvester ant Messor barbarus which reaches a peak of 84,8% at Zeralda. This observation is closer of those of Barech [11] in marshes of Reghaia confirms dominance of Formicidae in bicolour Cataglyphe's died by quoting Tapinomanigerrimum with 33,4% followed by Aphaenogaster testaceopilosa with 16,6 % and Messor barbarus with 11,8%. Moulai et al. [12] which near Bejaiamention 49,8% in a wasteland and 34,3% in a scrubland. At Guelma, Ziada and Doumandji [13] report a rate of 23,7% of Messor barbarus. This rate is higher around the Marsh or Reghaia where Ouarab et al. [14] state a rate equal to 87,0%, value nearly comparable to rate noted at Zeralda. In fact, Bernard [20] notes that Cataglyphis bicolor hunts in isolation or in small groups and by preference it attacks ants of Messor gender. The total richness of species-preys ingested by Cataglyphis viatica is of 218 at Crescia and 219 at Sidi Slimane. By contrast, at Zeralda, it is lower reaching 87 species. These results differ from those of Moulai et al. [12]. These authors identify 73 species-preys in a wasteland and 69 species-preys in scrubland. It should be pointed out that Ziada and Doumandji [13] have counted a total richness equal to 257 species-preys value modestly higher of those noted at Crescia and at Sidi Slimane. Ouarab et al. [14] report total richness relatively high, with 195 species-preys on the edge of Reghaia's Marsh, 147 near Tigzirt, 93 species-preys in the humid zone of Beni-Belaid and 109 species in natural preserve of Mergueb. Index value of Shannon (H') vary between 1,4 bits at Zeralda and 4,3 bits at Sidi Slimane. This means that nests gathered in the burned forest correspond to a higher diversity than those gathered in the scrubland. Moulai et al. [12] record diversity index values of Shannon of 2,57 bits in wasteland and of 3,94 bits in scrubland. Ziada and Doumandji [13], mention a value of 5,7 bits. Even Ouarab et al. [14] remark as diversity index value of 5,3 bits at Beni-Belaid. Faireness corresponds to a certain tendency towards equilibrium between number of species-preys ingested by Cataglyphe in the burnt forest (E = 0,6) which is not the case at level of orchard (E = 0,4) and the scrub (E = 0,2) where value E tend to 0. We assume that imbalance is necessarily linked to abundance of one or several species-preys compared to other. Likewise, Moulai et al. [12] remark equilibrium between species-preys of the scrubland and an imbalance at level of wasteland. Ziada and Doumandji [13] state a high value of E equal to 0,7 in region of Guelma. Therefore, these authors qualify Cataglyphis bicolor as generalist predator. Likewise, Ouarab et al. [14] obtained superior fairness values exceeding 0,5 in region of Reghaia, Tegzirt, Beni-Belaid and Mergueb. In the context of the present work, preys where Ivlev index is high are ants and particularly Messor barbarus in stations of Crescia and Zeralda. Moulai et al. [12] note that the most selected species are Apidae as Apis mellifera in the wasteland and Formicidae as Cataglyphis bicolor in the scrubland, the less selected are Aphaenogaster testaceo-pilosa in the wasteland and aCantharidae undetermined in scrubland. Likewise, Ziada and Doumandji (2008) show that Cataglyphis bicolor (Ii =+ 0,8) is the most selected by Cataglyphe and those one the less sought are Crematogaster auberti and Tetramoriun biskrensis (Ii = - 0,9).


In relation to available bibliography, it seems that the present study on trophic diet of Cataglyphis viatica is the first in Algiers Sahel, this ant is insectivorous. Hymenoptera Formicidae, social insects by excellence and gathered in great number constitute an abundant food resource and easy to access. Ants are the basic food of Cataglyphis viatica with high rates exceeding 3/4 of preys-number and a dominance of harvester ant Messor barbarus corresponding to a peak of 84,8%. This ant achieves a selection in the choice of its preys. It should be noted that Cataglyphis viatica behave sometime in generalist predator and sometime as specialist predator. It present hence, important adaptation capabilities, which allows explaining it invasive trend.


I would like to thank Professor Salaheddine Doumandji for determination of arthropods' fragments found in Cataglyphis viatica nests and for the correction of this article. I present my heartfelt gratitude to Mrs. Faiza Marmiche who assured determination of insects harvested in Barber's pots. We also wish to thank Mr. Karim Laribi for his help on the ground, Mr. Mohamed Nadji, Mr. Ahmed Nadji, Mr. Taib Djetti and so Miss Fahima Outtar for their valuable aids.


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(1) Fatma-Zohra NADJI, (2) Faiza MARNICHE and (1) Salaheddine DOUMANDJI

(1) Research laboratory and plant protection, Zoology Department, National Higher Agricultural School, El-Harrach, Algeria.

(2) National Higher Veterinary School, El-Alia, Algeria.

Address For Correspondence:

Fatma-Zohra NADJI, Research laboratory and plant protection, Zoology Department, National Higher Agricultural School, El- Harrach, Algeria.


Received 17 July 2016; Accepted 28 September 2016; Available online 30 September 2016

Fig. 2a: Relative abundances of species-preys of
Cataglyphisviatica gathered by class at Crescia
in Spring 2013.

Crustacea            0,08%
Gastropoda           0,26%
Arachnida            0,34%
Myriapoda            0,03%
Insecta              99,3%

Note: Table made from pie chart.

Fig. 2b: Relative abundances of species-preys of
Cataglyphisviatica gathered by class in scrubland
of Zeralda in Spring 2013

Gastropoda           0,7%
Arachnida           0,04%
Crustacea            0,7%
Aves                0,04%
Insecta             98,5%

Note: Table made from pie chart.

Fig. 2c: Relative abundances of species-preys of Cataglyphisviatica
gathered by class in a burned forest at Sidi Slimane

Gastropoda           2,4%
Arachnida            0,9%
Myriapoda           0,11%
Crustacea            0,3%
Insecta             96,3%

Note: Table made from pie chart.

Fig. 3: Relative abundances of insects orders in stations of Crescia,
Zeralda and Sidi Slimane during 2013

Crescia             92,3%
Zeralda             94,3%
Sidi Slimane        84,0%

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Fig. 4 : Relative abundances of available preys on the ground gathered
by class in stations of Crescia and Zeralda

                 Crescia   Zeralda

Gastropoda        %0.34     %0.25
Arachnida         %7.08     %5.45
Crustacea         %0        %4.94
Myriapoda         %0.17     %0.25
Insecta           %92.41    %89.10

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Author:Nadji, Fatma-Zohra; Marniche, Faiza; Doumandji, Salaheddine
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Report
Date:Sep 1, 2016
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