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Ant-plant conflicts and a novel case of castration parasitism in amyrmecophyte

Gaume, Laurence and Zacharias, Merry and Borges, Renee M (2005) Ant-plant conflicts and a novel case of castration parasitism in amyrmecophyte. In: Evolutionary Ecology Research, 7 (3).

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Official URL: http://www.evolutionary-ecology.com/v0.html

Abstract

Questions: Do protective plant-ants perturb the pollination process and the reproduction of their host-plant? If they do, have partner selective mechanisms evolved against such conflicts? Organisms: The semi-myrmecophyte Humboldtia brunonis and its ant associates.Field site: Makut Reserve Forest, Western Ghats. South India.Methods: We tracked insect and extrafloral nectar activity on inflorescences of several trees over a 24 h cycle. We repeatedly measured the extrafloral nectar produced by bracts of flowers throughout their phenology from the bud stage until and beyond flower opening. We studied the behaviour of ants towards the reproductive apparatus of the flowers and conducted ant exclusion experiments to test for my negative effect on herbivores of fruit production.Conclusions: Pollinators did not visit inflorescences that had more than four ants on them. Ants. solely by their presence on bud bract sand bracteoles. intimidate other insects, both pollinators and herbivores. Some spatial and temporal mechanisms partially preventn egative ant-pollinator interactions. First. extrafloral nectar production on the bracts of flower buds, which attracts ants to inflorescences. was highest at night, attracting the largest numbers of ants at that time, whereas the major pollinators were active during the day. Second, this extra floral nectar production declines after the first flower of each inflorescence opens. Third, the anthers and stigmaare placed at the apex of a thin elongate axis, which offers aprecarious foothold to ants. One ant species, Crematogaster dohrni,succeeds despite these difficulties by acting just before the flower-opens, and damaging the flower when the style and stamens are still folded. This is the fourth case of castration behaviour of aplant-ant directed against its host-plant. Despite its anti-herbivore protection of flower buds. this plant-ant has a negative impact on fruit production in H. brunonis.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Evolutionary Ecology Ltd.
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 18 May 2005
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2012 08:33
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ernet.in/id/eprint/3215

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