By the Way, Does the Presence of Ants in Flowers Interfere with Floral Visitation, or Not? A community Ecology Study

Authors

  • Gabriela Santana de Oliveira Biological Sciences Department, Feira de Santana State University, Feira de Santana - BA, Brazil
  • José Eneas Schramm Júnior Biological Sciences Department, Feira de Santana State University, Feira de Santana - BA, Brazil
  • Tamires Bastos dos Santos Biological Sciences Department, Feira de Santana State University, Feira de Santana - BA, Brazil
  • Gilberto Marcos de M. Santos Department of Biological Sciences, Feira de Santana State University, Feira de Santana - BA, Brazil

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v71i2.9286

Keywords:

Ecology, Antagonism, Ants, Mutualistic Interactions, floral visitors, ecological networks

Abstract

Several mutualistic interactions occur in natural communities that, in some cases, present antagonistic functions happening simultaneously and even within the same interaction, so both mutualistic and antagonistic partners present direct and indirect interactions reflecting the system’s whole structure. The mutualistic interaction some ants have with plants – based on which defense is offered in exchange for another benefit (such as food and/or shelter) – raises doubts about its likely effect on floral visitors that account for pollination processes. The current study uses the complex network approach to assess whether these divergent interactions affect each other at the community level. We adopted interactions’ connectedness as a response metric to highlight the strength of interactions within a given community. We tested the hypothesis that ants’ presence in flowers interferes with floral visitation by other animal species, influences floral visitors’ network structure, and, consequently, reduces networks’ connectedness. According to the current results, ants’ presence in flowers did not change floral visitors’ network structure. Although it had some impact on certain floral visitors, such as bees, as also evidenced in studies conducted at the population level, it was not significant enough to change the community’s structure. The findings in the present study maintained the concept of mutualism, according to which benefits outweigh the losses. Yet, they did not show antagonism in the ants/plants association.

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Published

2024-05-28

How to Cite

Oliveira, G. S. de, Schramm Júnior, J. E., Santos, T. B. dos, & Santos, G. M. de M. (2024). By the Way, Does the Presence of Ants in Flowers Interfere with Floral Visitation, or Not? A community Ecology Study. Sociobiology, 71(2), e9286. https://doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v71i2.9286

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Research Article - Ants

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