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Thomas Parmentier

Thomas Parmentier
University of Namur - Ghent university

PhD
I am an community ecologist with a special interest in ant symbioses, especially myrmecophiles

About

45
Publications
17,540
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322
Citations
Introduction
I am an evolutionary ecologist with a special interest in ant symbioses. I mainly focus on obligate ant nest associates known as myrmecophiles. I use this peculiar group of arthropods to test general hypotheses on host-parasite dynamics, symbiont community interactions, host specificity mechanisms and community assembly of symbionts in a spatial context.
Additional affiliations
October 2020 - September 2023
University of Namur
Position
  • PostDoc Position
October 2017 - September 2020
Ghent University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
October 2016 - September 2017
KU Leuven
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (45)
Chapter
Full-text available
book chapter Encyclopedia of Social Insects - ed. C. Starr, I give a comprehensive overview of the biology, diversity and strategies of social insect guests (myrmecophiles, termitophiles, bee guests, wasp guests)
Article
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Intimate associations between different species drive community composition across ecosystems. Understanding the ecological and evolutionary drivers of these symbiotic associations is challenging because their structure eventually determines stability and resilience of the entire species network. Here, we compiled a detailed database on naturally o...
Article
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Background cues may affect the perception and processing of sensory stimuli used by species to detect other organisms. These additional environmental cues change the effectiveness of behavioral responses and eventually influence species interactions. Ants make use of an advanced sensing system to detect intruders, but little is known how cues of th...
Article
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Background Host range is a fundamental trait to understand the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of symbionts. Increasing host specificity is expected to be accompanied with specialization in different symbiont traits. We tested this specificity-specialization association in a large group of 16 ant-associated silverfish species by linking their...
Article
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Mutually beneficial associations are widespread in ecological networks. They are typically assembled as multispecies guilds of symbionts that compete for one or more host species. The ant Lasius flavus engages in an intriguing and obligate mutualistic association with a community of aphids that are cultivated on plant roots in its nests. The ant di...
Article
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The balance between costs and benefits is expected to drive associations between species. While these balances are well understood for strict associations, we have no insights to which extent they determine facultative associations between species. Here, we quantified the costs of living in a facultative association, by studying the effects of red...
Article
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Intersex phenotypes are rarely observed in natural isopod populations and their expression is typically associated with infection of Wolbachia , a reproductive parasite that manipulates arthropod reproduction. During an intensive sampling effort of a natural population of the isopod Porcellio scaber , an adult individual was isolated that expressed...
Preprint
Full-text available
Mate choice is a widespread phenomenon with important effects on ecological and evolutionary dynamics of successive generations. Increasing evidence shows that males can choose females if females vary in quality and these mating choices can strongly impact fitness. In the herbivorous spider mite Tetranychus urticae males engage in precopulatory mat...
Article
The mechanisms and evolution of metallic structural colours are of both fundamental and applied interest, yet most work in arthropods has focused on derived butterflies and beetles with distinct hues. In particular, basal hexapods—groups with many scaled, metallic representatives—are currently poorly studied and controversial, with some recent stud...
Article
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Background: Species interactions may affect spatial dynamics when the movement of one species is determined by the presence of another one. The most direct species-dependence of dispersal is vectored, usually cross-kingdom, movement of immobile parasites, diseases or seeds by mobile animals. Joint movements of species should, however, not be vector...
Article
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1. A diverse group of arthropods have adapted to the niches found inside the nests of social insects. Studies mostly focused on very specialised parasites residing in the brood chambers. However, the biology and strategies of symbionts occupying other niches, such as waste dumps, are underexplored. 2. Using a series of complementary experiments, t...
Article
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Ant nests are relatively stable and long-lasting microhabitats that attract a diverse group of arthropods. Particular stressors, however, can trigger ants to relocate their nest to a new site. It is unclear how associated arthropods respond to occasional nest moving of their host. Here, I report field observations which showed that the potentially...
Article
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105 species of spiders were collected during a year-round sampling with pitfall traps of 3 heathland patches in Provinciedomein Tillegembos south of Bruges. Several rare and interesting species were discovered and discussed. An important part of the spider fauna in these heathlands consists of species characteristic for dry, oligotrophic grasslands...
Article
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Indirect interactions occur when a species affects another species by altering the density (density-mediated interactions) or influencing traits (trait-mediated interactions) of a third species. We studied variation in these two types of indirect interactions in a network of red wood ants and symbiotic arthropods living in their nests. We tested wh...
Article
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Many parasites display complex strategies to evade host detection. The principal view is that parasites of social insects deceive their host by means of advanced chemical adaptations such as mimicking the cuticular host recognition cues, being chemically odorless, or emitting manipulative volatiles. Apart from these chemical adaptations, parasites...
Article
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Social insect colonies provide a valuable resource that attracts and offers shelter to a large community of arthropods. Previous research has suggested that many specialist parasites of social insects chemically mimic their host in order to evade aggression. In the present study, we carry out a systematic study to test how common such chemical dece...
Article
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Many symbionts live in association with different species. It can be expected that these distinct hosts might have a different effect on key life history traits of the associated symbionts. Here, we compared the key trait body size of the obligatorily ant-associated isopod Platyarthrus hoffmannseggii collected in nests of two types of sympatric ant...
Article
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Social insects have a highly developed nestmate and species recognition system that is quite effective at keeping out unwanted intruders. Rare cases of “parabiosis,” however, are known in some ants where two species apparently live peacefully alongside each other within the same nest. Here, we report on such an association between the tiny Afrotrop...
Article
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The facultative endosymbionts Hamiltonella defensa and Regiella insecticola are commonly found in aphids. They are linked with various ecological benefits but generally occur at low prevalence, which indicates a possible harbouring cost. Little is known about how the presence of facultative endosymbionts is reflected in honeydew composition. Honeyd...
Article
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Myrmecophiles or ant associates are able to penetrate and survive inside the heavily defended nests of various ant species. With the exception of some highly specialized species, many of these myrmecophiles elicit a highly aggressive response and are frequently wounded or even killed by their hosts. Many myrmecophiles also appear to strongly prefer...
Article
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Background A host infected with multiple parasitic species provides a unique system to test evolutionary and ecological hypotheses. Different parasitic species associated with a single host are expected to occupy different niches. This niche specialization can evolve from intraguild competition among parasites. However, niche specialization can als...
Article
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In the summer of 2014, a highly supercolonial Tapinoma was discovered in Ostend, Belgium. This was the first time a Tapinoma species with an invasive behaviour was discovered outdoors in Belgium. The ant belongs to the most widely distributed of four recognized species of the Tapinoma nigerrimum complex and is the only known species being invasive...
Article
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Living in close association with other organisms has proven to be a widespread and successful strategy in nature. Some communities are completely driven by symbiotic associations and therefore, intimate relationships among the partners can be expected. Here, we analyzed in-depth the food web of a particularly rich community of arthropods found in s...
Article
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In many species, specialized defence traits and strategies are crucial for surviving enemy attacks or securing resources. In numerous social insect lineages, a morphologically and behaviourally distinct soldier caste specializes in colony defence, with larger foragers typically engaging most in the aggressive defence of the colony against external...
Article
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1. The aphid Aphis fabae (Scopoli) is facultatively tended by Lasius niger (Linnaeus) ants. Previously, we found that A. fabae colonies can be made up of several clones, and that clones display significant differences in the composition of their honeydew sugars, especially in the amount of the ant attractant sugar melezitose that they produce.2. Th...
Article
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Two recent and one old observation of Formicoxenus nitidulus (Nylander, 1846) are mentioned for Flanders. So far this species was recorded six times in Flanders. We found this ant four times in the neighbourhood of or in nests of Formica pratensis Retzius, 1783 and twice with Formica polyctena Förster, 1850. Probably this species is less rare in Fl...
Article
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Red wood ants support a diverse community of myrmecophiles in their nest mounds. Given that nest mounds provide fairly constant and distinct habitat patches for myrmecophiles, metapopulation and metacommunity dynamics can be expected to play an important role in structuring myrmecophile communities. Here, we investigate how site, site size (i.e. nu...
Article
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The importance of Eurasian red wood ants (RWAs) (Formica rufa group) in forest and heath ecosystems has long been recognized. One key function of RWAs is the role of their nests in supporting an intriguing ecosystem of a highly diverse group of obligate myrmecophiles and facultative guests. In this review we list 125 obligate arthropod myrmecophile...
Article
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Atelura formicaria Heyden, 1855 (Zygentoma, Nicoletiidae) is a silverfish which lives permanently in ant nests. Despite being recorded and well established in central Europe, it was unknown for Belgium. Here we report the first record of this species in Belgium with some notes on its biology. Samenvatting Atelura formicaria Heyden, 1855 (Zygentoma,...
Article
Interspecific mutualisms, i.e. reciprocally beneficial relationships between different species, are ubiquitous in nature and ecologically very important. The long term stability of mutualisms, however, may be threatened by the emergence of “cheaters" or by the abandoning or extinction of one of the mutualistic partners. Recently, we found large gen...
Article
Full-text available
Long-term site fidelity or Ortstreue is an individual foraging strategy typical of ants exploiting stable and predictable food sources in space and time. red wood ant workers (Formica s. str.) are central-place foragers feeding on hon-eydew secreted by stable aphid populations. In this field study, temporal site fidelity of Formica rufa honeydew te...

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Projects

Projects (6)
Project
Mediterranean ant nest house a diverse group of arthropods. The aim of this project is to unravel different ecological strategies (chemical, behavioral, trophic, microbial) from a community perspective, with a special focus on myrmecophilous silverfish. This undervalued group of primitive arthropods is surprisingly diverse in the Mediterranean. All degrees of symbiosis can be found (cf Molero-Baltanas et al. 2017, Myrmecological News), which make them ideal models to study different facets of the evolution of symbiosis.
Project
Since 2014, several entomofauna groups are monitored in a large number of heathland patches near Bruges. Most of these patches are dominated by Calluna vulgaris and Erica cinerea. The sampled sites differ in history, age of the heathland, management, surface, surrounding vegetation and isolation. Spiders and insects are sampled mainly by pitfall traps, which are placed at the sites for at least 12 months. Until now more than 40 different insect and other invertebrate groups were sorted out and identified. For some groups many rare species were discovered and seem to have vital populations in these patches. Some species are even very rare and threatened in Flanders and for these species the heathlands near Bruges are very important in their survival.