The Ecological Effects of Ant-Aphid Mutualism on Plants at a Large Spatial Scale

Shuang Zhang, Yuxin Zhang, Keming Ma

Abstract


The protective ant-plant interaction has been considered as a model system in studying mutualistic interactions, but we know little about the ecological effects of the mutualism at relatively larger spatial scales. In this study, by excluding an aphid-tending ant species (Lasius fuliginosus) from all host oak trees (Quercus liaotungensis) in 20x20 m plots, we evaluated the effects of ants on herbivory, fruit production and leaf toughness of the host tree. Through a two years study, we found that ants have a significant anti-herbivory effect on the host tree, with no effects on fruit production. At the end of the growing season, leaf toughness for plants without ants increased significantly. This suggests that ants are reliable and effective bodyguards for plants at larger spatial scales. For plants, the possible tradeoff between different defensive strategies at larger scale should be focused in further works.


Keywords


Ant defense; ant-plant interaction; herbivory; exclusion experiment

Full Text:

PDF

References


Agrawal, A. A. (2007). Macroevolution of plant defense strategies. Trends Ecol. Evol., 22: 103-109.

Agrawal, A. A. (2011). Current trends in the evolutionary ecology of plant defence. Funct. Ecol., 25: 420-432.

Agrawal, A. A., D. D. Ackerly, F. Adler, A. E. Arnold, C. Caceres, D. F. Doak, E. Post, P. J. Hudson, J. Maron, K. A. Mooney, M. Power, D. Schemske, J. Stachowicz, S. Strauss, M. G. Turner, & E. Werner. (2007). Filling key gaps in population and community ecology. Front. Ecol. Environ., 5: 145-152.

Bascompte, J. & P. Jordano. (2007). Plant-Animal Mutualistic Networks: The Architecture of Biodiversity. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst., 38: 567-593.

Bronstein, J. L. (1994). Conditional outcomes in mutualistic interactions. Trends Ecol. Evol., 9: 214-217.

Bruno, J. F., J. J. Stachowicz, & M. D. Bertness. (2003). Inclusion of facilitation into ecological theory. Trends Ecol. Evol., 18: 119-125.

Buckley, R. (1983). Interaction between Ants and Membracid Bugs Decreases Growth and Seed Set of Host Plant Bearing Extrafloral Nectaries. Oecologia, 58: 132-136.

Chamberlain, S. A. & J. N. Holland. (2009). Quantitative synthesis of context dependency in ant-plant protection mutualisms. Ecology, 90: 2384-2392.

Del-Claro, K. (2004). Multitrophic relationships, conditional mutualisms, and the study of interaction biodiversity in tropical savannas. Neotrop. Entomol., 33: 665-672.

Del-Claro, K. & P. S. Oliveira. (2000). Conditional outcomes in a neotropical treehopper-ant association: temporal and species-specific variation in ant protection and homopteran fecundity. Oecologia, 124: 156-165.

Frederickson, M. E., A. Ravenscraft, L. M. Arcila Hernández, G. Booth, V. Astudillo, & G. A. Miller. (2013). What happens when ants fail at plant defence? Cordia nodosa dynamically adjusts its investment in both direct and indirect resistance traits in response to herbivore damage. J. Ecol., 101: 400-409.

Garcia, D., R. Zamora, & G. C. Amico. (2011). The spatial scale of plant-animal interactions: effects of resource availability and habitat structure. Ecol. Monogr., 81: 103-121.

Harper, J. L. (1989). The value of a leaf. Oecologia, 80: 53-58.

Heil, M., T. Delsinne, A. Hilpert, S. Schurkens, C. Andary, K. E. Linsenmair, M. S. Sousa, & D. McKey. (2002). Reduced chemical defence in ant-plants? A critical re-evaluation of a widely accepted hypothesis. Oikos, 99: 457-468.

Hopkins, G. W. & J. I. Thacker. (1999). Ants and habitat specificity in aphids. J. Insect Conserv., 3: 25-31.

Janzen, D. H. (1966). Coevolution of mutualism between ants and acacias in central America. Evolution, 20: 249-275.

Kaplan, I. & M. D. Eubanks. (2005). Aphids alter the community-wide impact of fire ants. Ecology, 86: 1640-1649.

Korndörfer, A. P. &K. Del-Claro. (2006). Ant Defense Versus Induced Defense in Lafoensia pacari (Lythraceae), a Myrmecophilous Tree of the Brazilian Cerrado1. Biotropica, 38: 786-788.

Leiss, K. A. and P. G. L. Klinkhamer. (2005). Spatial distribution of nectar production in a natural Echium vulgare population: Implications for pollinator behaviour. Basic Appl. Ecol. 6: 317-324.

Moreira, V. S. S. & K. Del-Claro. (2005). The outcomes of an ant-treehopper association on Solanum lycocarpum St. Hill: increased membracid fecundity and reduced damage by chewing herbivores. Neotrop. Entomol. 34: 881-887.

Onoda, Y., M. Westoby, P. B. Adler, A. M. F. Choong, F. J. Clissold, J. H. C. Cornelissen, S. Díaz, N. J. Dominy, A. Elgart, L. Enrico, P. V. A. Fine, J. J. Howard, A. Jalili, K. Kitajima, H. Kurokawa, C. McArthur, P. W. Lucas, L. Markesteijn, N. Pérez-Harguindeguy, L. Poorter, L. Richards, L. S. Santiago, E. E. Sosinski, S. A. Van Bael, D. I. Warton, I. J. Wright, S. Joseph Wright, & N. Yamashita. (2011). Global patterns of leaf mechanical properties. Ecol. Lett., 14: 301-312.

Pringle, E., R. Dirzo, & D. Gordon. (2011). Indirect benefits of symbiotic coccoids for an ant-defended myrmecophytic tree. Ecology, 92: 37-46.

Romero, G. Q. & J. Koricheva. (2011). Contrasting cascade effects of carnivores on plant fitness: a meta-analysis. J. Anim. Ecol., 80: 696-704.

Rosumek, F., F. Silveira, F. de S. Neves, N. de U. Barbosa, L. Diniz, Y. Oki, F. Pezzini, G. Fernandes, & T. Cornelissen. (2009). Ants on plants: a meta-analysis of the role of ants as plant biotic defenses. Oecologia, 160: 537-549.

Stadler, B. and A. F. G. Dixon. (2005). Ecology and evolution of aphid-ant interactions. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 36: 345-372.

Stamp, N. (2003). Out of the quagmire of plant defense hypotheses. Q. Rev. Biol., 78: 23-55.

Styrsky, J. D. and M. D. Eubanks. 2007. Ecological consequences of interactions between ants and honeydew-producing insects. Proc R Soc B-Biol Sci 274:151-164.

Trager, M. D., S. Bhotika, J. A. Hostetler, G. V. Andrade, M. A. Rodriguez-Cabal, C. S. McKeon, C. W. Osenberg, & B. M. Bolker. (2010). Benefits for Plants in Ant-Plant Protective Mutualisms: A Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE 5:e14308.

WallisDeVries, M. F., E. A. Laca, & M. W. Demment. (1999). The importance of scale of patchiness for selectivity in grazing herbivores. Oecologia, 121: 355-363.

Way, M. J. (1963). Mutualism between ants and honeydew-producing homoptera. Annu. Rev. Entomol., 8: 307-344.

Westphal, C., Steffan-Dewenter, I. & Tscharntke, T. (2006). Bumblebees experience landscapes at different spatial scales: possible implications for coexistence. Oecologia, 149: 289-300.

Wimp, G. M. & T. G. Whitham. (2001). Biodiversity consequences of predation and host plant hybridization on an aphid-ant mutualism. Ecology, 82: 440-452.

Zhang, S., Y. Zhang, & K. Ma. (2012a). Different-sized oak trees are equally protected by the aphid-tending ants. Arthropod-Plant Interact., 6: 307-314.

Zhang, S., Y. X. Zhang, & K. M. Ma. (2012b). The ecological effects of the ant-hemipteran mutualism: a meta-analysis. Basic Appl. Ecol., 13: 116-124.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v60i3.236-241

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


JCR Impact Factor 2018: 0.604