Benefits conferred by "timid" ants: active anti-herbivore protection of the rainforest tree Leonardoxa africana by the minute ant Petalomyrmex phylax

Abstract : In this study, we demonstrate that an important benefitt provided by the small host-species ant Petalomyrmex phylax to its host plant Leonardoxa africana is efficient protection against herbivores. We estimate that in the absence of ants, insect herbivory would reduce the leaf area by about one-third. This contributes considerably to the fitness of the plant. Our estimates take into account not only direct damage, such as removal of leaf surface by chewing insects, but also the effects of sucking insects on leaf growth and expansion. Sucking insects are numerically predominant in this system, and the hitherto cryptic effects of ant protection against the growth-reducing effects of sucking insects accounted for half of the total estimated benefit of ant protection. We propose that the small size of workers confers a distinct advantage in this system. Assuming that resource limitation implies a trade off between size and number of ants, and given the small size of phytophagous insects that attack Leonardoxa, we conclude that fine-grained patrolling by a large number of small workers maximises protection of young leaves of this plant. Since herbivores are small and must complete their development on the young leaves of Leonardoxa, and since a high patrolling density is required for a fine-grained search for these enemies, numerous small ants should provide the most effective protection of young leaves of Leonardoxa. We also discuss other factors that may have influenced worker size in this ant.
Liste complète des métadonnées

https://hal.umontpellier.fr/hal-02388750
Contributeur : Laurence Gaume <>
Soumis le : lundi 2 décembre 2019 - 10:08:41
Dernière modification le : mercredi 4 décembre 2019 - 01:27:59

Lien texte intégral

Identifiants

Citation

Laurence Gaume, Doyle Mckey, Marie-Charlotte Anstett. Benefits conferred by "timid" ants: active anti-herbivore protection of the rainforest tree Leonardoxa africana by the minute ant Petalomyrmex phylax. Oecologia, Springer Verlag, 1997, 112 (2), pp.209-216. ⟨10.1007/s004420050302⟩. ⟨hal-02388750⟩

Partager

Métriques

Consultations de la notice

20