Record Details

Davidson, D. W.;Longino, J. T.;Snelling, R. R.
Pruning of host plant neighbors by ants: An experimental approach
Journal Article
Parque Nacional del Manu Cocha Cashu plants trees Triplaris americana Polygonaceae plant-animal interactions ant-plant interactions Crematogaster ecology animal behavior experiments herbivory leaves Cordia nodosa Allomerus demerarae Boraginaceae Madre de Dios Bibliography
Some mirmecophytics ants prune either obligately or facultatively prune vegetation surrounding their host trees. This behavior occurs more frequently in ants with sting defenses than in those with chemical defenses, which can have, in general, an advantage in aggressive encounters between ants. Experiments in the tropical moist forest tested the hypothesis that pruning may reduce the threat of invasions by potentially dangerous alien ants. When contacts were made between Triplaris americana 1-3 m in high and neighboring plants, Crematogaster ants invade more frequently and in greater number these plants and inhibited the behavior of the resident ants (Pseudomyrmex dendroicus). Invaders occasionally carried away brood and hollow stem nests of resident ants. Pseudomyrmex cut petioles of leaves on plants contacting their hosts as well as leaves of their own host plants when these leaves formed bridges that make easier the invasions. These ants create clearings around their hosts in order to reduce the probabilities that Crematogaster get near the tree trunks. In Cordia nodosa, inhabited by Allomerus demararae, numbers of invading ants did not differ on experimental and control trees, perhaps because larger ants cannot invade through dense trichomes. Allomerus workers attacked encroaching vines only when these vines bore large numbers of Crematogaster.
Times Cited: 36