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A temporary social parasite of tropical plant-ants improves the fitness of a myrmecophyte

Dejean, Alain and Leroy, Céline and Corbara, Bruno and Céréghino, Régis and Roux, Olivier and Hérault, Bruno and Rossi, Vivien and Guerrero, Roberto J. and Delabie, Jacques H. C. and Orivel, Jérôme and Boulay, Raphaël A temporary social parasite of tropical plant-ants improves the fitness of a myrmecophyte. (2010) Naturwissenschaften, 97 (10). 925-934. ISSN 0028-1042

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00114-010-0710-y

Abstract

Myrmecophytes offer plant-ants a nesting place in exchange for protection from their enemies, particularly defoliators. These obligate ant-plant mutualisms are common model systems for studying factors that allow horizontally transmitted mutualisms to persist since parasites of ant-myrmecophyte mutualisms exploit the rewards provided by host plants whilst providing no protection in return. In pioneer formations in French Guiana, Azteca alfari and Azteca ovaticeps are known to be mutualists of myrmecophytic Cecropia (Cecropia ants). Here, we show that Azteca andreae, whose colonies build carton nests on myrmecophytic Cecropia, is not a parasite of Azteca-Cecropia mutualisms nor is it a temporary social parasite of A. alfari; it is, however, a temporary social parasite of A. ovaticeps. Contrarily to the two mutualistic Azteca species that are only occasional predators feeding mostly on hemipteran honeydew and food bodies provided by the host trees, A. andreae workers, which also attend hemipterans, do not exploit the food bodies. Rather, they employ an effective hunting technique where the leaf margins are fringed with ambushing workers, waiting for insects to alight. As a result, the host trees' fitness is not affected as A. andreae colonies protect their foliage better than do mutualistic Azteca species resulting in greater fruit production. Yet, contrarily to mutualistic Azteca, when host tree development does not keep pace with colony growth, A. andreae workers forage on surrounding plants; the colonies can even move to a non-Cecropia tree.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Thanks to Springer editor. The original version is available at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00114-010-0710-y
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:Other partners > AgroParisTech (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique - CIRAD (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS (FRANCE)
Other partners > Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas - CSIC (SPAIN)
Université de Toulouse > Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse - INPT (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - INRA (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier - UPS (FRANCE)
Other partners > Centro de Pesquisas do Cacau - CEPLAC (BRAZIL)
Other partners > Universidad del Magdalena (COLOMBIA)
Other partners > Université de la Méditerranée - Aix-Marseille II (FRANCE)
Other partners > Universidad de Granada - UGR (SPAIN)
Other partners > Université des Antilles et de la Guyane (FRANCE)
Laboratory name:
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Deposited By: Régis Cereghino
Deposited On:21 Nov 2013 09:22

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