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Relationship between Fungus and Ants PDF

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Mathematical Model of the Predator/Prey Relationship between Fungus and Ants
Introduction
There are some parasites that have an adaptive ability that allows them to infect and take
over control of the host's behavior. This allows the parasite to propagate its genes while crippling
or killing the host in the process; as such, the endeavor is only beneficial to the parasite. The
host's behavior is considered to assume the phenotype of the controlling parasite[ CITATION
Hug11 \l 1033 ].The level of manipulation conducted on the host varies from one species of
parasite to the next. Some parasites only cause minor changes in the host's behaviors; however,
other parasites cause the host to behavior in a manner that is normally not associated with that
species and is completely unexpected (i.e. the hosts therefore become extended phenotypes). The
study of extended phenotypes has become a critical topic in behavioral, evolutionary, and
community ecology. Previous research studies on extended phenotypes have primarily focused
on understanding whether the behavioral changes were caused by: adaptations in the parasites,
host inspired defense mechanisms, or a by-product of parasite infection and
subjugation[ CITATION Fre18 \l 1033 ].
With regard to adaptation lead manipulation of animals' behavior by a parasite, a great
example would be the impact of the fungal parasites grouped under the classification genus
Ophiocordyceps and the worker ants. The infect ants experience uncontrollable death grip
behavior that eventually results in their death; the underlining reason is seen to be nothing more
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that for the reproduction of the fungal parasite. An ant becomes infected by the parasite when
spores of the fungi attach to the ant's cuticle and eventually germinate allowing them to spread
throughout the host's body. The fungal parasite them assumes control of the ant and forces it to
find an ideal spot for spore dispensation. After which, the ant then clasps down it jaw on a twig
for permanent anchorage of the host thus allowing for a stalk to sprout from the ants head that
will release spores to infect other ants[ CITATION Que18 \l 1033 ].
Method
A comparative assessment technique will be employed that seeks to establish the
presence of a causative relationship between the birthrate of fungi and the carrying capacity
observed in the fungi (parasite) and ants (host). The predictor variable in this analysis will
therefore be the birthrate of fungi; the variable will assume values between 2.5 and 5 with
change values of 0.5 between values. The sample size of the explanatory variable will be limited
to only 6 values. The analysis will demand two independent assessments to be conducted with
two different responses variables; for the purposes of proper comparison of results. The response
variables will be the carrying capacity of the fungi and that of the ants. Both response variables
will have only 6 values similar to those of the predictor variable (birthrate of fungi). The
assessments were performed in R Studio and the procedure that was followed is provided in the
appendix.
Results
The information presented in graph 1 (Appendix) indicates that there is some influence
that birthrate of fungi has on the carrying capacity of both ants and fungi. With this information
it is important to assess the exact relationship that is observed between the predictor variable and
each of the response variables.
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Table 1
Graph 2
The results in table one indicate that the carrying capacity of fungi assumes values
between 0 and 1309 for birthrate changes in fungi between 2.5 and 5. As the birth rate of fungi
decreases and tends towards 2.5 the carrying capacity of fungi decreases significantly and
approaches 0. The relationship between the two variables is considered to be direct; where an
increment in one variable will result in the increment in the other variable.
Table 2
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