First report of bullet ants (Paraponera clavata) sequestering vertebrate carrion.
Romero, A., Montaño, J., Cedeño, A. S., & Layola, G. O.
Facultative scavengers are important members of food webs that help shape trophic interactions. Unfortunately, the role of facultative scavengers is underestimated, in part, because we have not fully documented what organisms use carrion. As part of a scavenging project at La Selva Biological Station (Costa Rica), we observed bullet ants (Paraponera clavata) tearing apart and removing mouse carcasses. Of our 202 deployed mouse carcasses, we found bullet ants on 18 occasions. All of our bullet ant observations came from carcasses placed above-ground level (on lianas and branches; n = 100), and the majority of these were in primary forest. To our knowledge, this is the first report and description of bullet ants associating and removing carrion. We suspect that scavenging rates by bullet ants are likely higher than what we report here, and that bullet ants may be an important component of the scavenging communities in Neotropical rainforests.